Today at work, I received an unusual piece of junk mail. It was a glossy, three-fold pamphlet advertising some sort of specialty office supply. I normally would have thrown it out without a second glance, but the message on the front caught my eye.
"Please Don't Throw Me Away!
At Least look At Me.
Alot Of Hard Work Went Into Making Me For You!
And Our Pricing Is Great Too!"
Never mind the overzealous use of capital letters and the common misspelling of "a lot." What grabbed my attention was the fact that they expected me to not toss the brochure as trash (and by extension expected me to consider buying their product) simply because they had worked hard to make it.
Ahem... excuse me for a moment...
What marketing genius thought that up? Is this supposed to get some sort of sympathy vote? It's plain that someone did some work to bring this brochure into existance, but honestly, I can't even believe they worked "hard" on it. It was totally non-descript and looked exactly like any of a thousand of pieces of junk mail I toss every week.
Even if it had been interesting or flashy or creative, is the fact the someone "worked hard" on it really a reason for me to open it? No. That's just pathetic.
I think this thing stems from the "self-esteem" thinking that seems to be prevalent today. The most important thing for some parents and educators is that a child grows up with high self-esteem. They seem to believe that any criticism will cause a child's self-esteem to falter and his ability to achieve will be compromised.
In a way, it is a self-fulfilling prophesy. If a person grows up being continually indoctrinated with the idea that everything he never makes mistakes and everything he does is a rousing success, then yes, of course, any criticism will probably be crippling.
I'm not saying good self-esteem isn't an important component of being a high-achiever, it's just not the only thing. People need to learn the difference between what is a real triumph of hard work and something they may have worked hard on, but is still crap. We learn because we are allowed to receive feedback and criticism. If everything you put hard work into is excellent, just because you worked hard on it, you loose the motivation to do it even better the next time.
I guess their marketing ploy worked better than I thought it would, because I actually did open and peruse the brochure instead of just throwing it away. But only so I could make fun of it.