The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

The Delusion And Illusion That Makes Us Buy …
November 22, 2012, 6:15 am
Filed under: Comment

A long time ago – well, 4 months ago – I wrote about how a trip to the local ASDA in Nottingham had demonstrated how supermarkets know more about people than planners.

Well, after my recent trip home for my Mum’s 80th birthday celebrations, they’ve gone and done it again.

While I was running up and down the aisles like a 5 year old who had got away from his Mum, I chanced upon this:

Can you see it?

It’s a book reading light next to the hot chocolates drinks.

In other words, it’s an all in one, ‘cosy for the night’ pack.

Now I know I slagged off book reading lights a while back and so suddenly bigging it up makes me look a hypocrite, but apart from [1] this is not a USB powered light, which was the main issue I had with the previous example and [2] being classed as a hypocrite has never stopped me making hypocritical comments in the past … this product tie-in of hot chocolate and book reading light seems a match made in heaven.

No, not in the sense that people actually do this sort of thing, but because people – or at least some people – like the idea of doing that sort of thing.

It’s called ‘romantic notions’ and it affects everyone in different ways.

I remember when we first moved to Singapore and were buying furniture.

There was a rather glorious chair that Jill wanted.

Really … really … wanted.

But given we had already bought all the furniture we needed, there was no place for it.

Or so I thought.

“But we can put it in the bedroom, by the window”, she declared.

At that very moment, I could see inside her head.

The chair … the bedroom … the window.

No, it wasn’t for some weird sex show for the neighbours, it was so she could sit there – on a Sunday afternoon as the sun was starting to set – legs curled up beneath her, reading some Emily Bronte novel with the cat [which we didn’t have yet] curled up on her lap, gently purring.

THAT is why she wanted the chair.

It was a key piece to live out her romantic notion.

So we bought that chair and you know what she did with it?

Put her fucking clothes on it.

She didn’t sit on it, reading a book, EVER.


And that is why the person at ASDA is such an evil genius.

Because people don’t actually lie in bed, with a hot cup of hot chocolate in one hand, a book – with reading lamp attached to the top – in the other, on a cold, cold wintery night. They only do it in their heads.

Apart from the fact turning the page would be a complete bitch, we all know that within 10 minutes, the person lying next to you will complain that “your light is shining in my eyes so can you please turn it off because I’m trying to sleep.”

Then there’s the fact that according to some, we only use iPads for reading now – which, if it was true [which it isn’t] would have killed the book light reading business by now and yet everywhere I go, I see one of the bastards things for sale.



DIY stores.



So remember, planning [yes, here’s the spurious link] isn’t just about understanding societies reality, it’s also about understanding the reality of their fantasy.

56 Comments so far
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I think I prefer it when you write about One Direction.

Comment by DH

They don’t.

Comment by Rob

If “romantic notions” becomes planning terminology, I will kill myself.

Comment by DH

I won’t … but I might kill others. Like when I hear planners go on about ‘behavioral economics’ as if [1] they invented it and [2] they truly understand it when all they ever advocate is ‘making an ad’.

Comment by Rob

This is a great post Rob, but I bet it gets less comments than yesterday.

I’m not sure if Asda stackers are as psychologically devious as you’re suggesting but the whole “romantic notions” point of the post is real and important.

Don’t worry Dave, I’m not suggesting it should be a planning term or a planners tool, but remembering that people buy items to fulfil an unfulfillable (but relatively simple) dream is very true and differs significantly from people who buy premium brands to fool themselves into believing they now belong to a higher social status group.

Internal vs external projection.

Happy thanksgiving.

Comment by Pete

because it is thanksgiving, I’ll not remind you of buzz and wave.. So there Pete..when you are thanking the pilgrims..add to your me being such a nice guy and Rob, who made it possible for you to enjoy my sunny disposition..

Comment by niko

You seem to have mistaken me as one of Google’s founders Niko. That’s very kind, but unfortunately wrong.

Comment by Pete

british modesty….

until after the holidays, young man..

Comment by niko

It’s Google+ that needs challenging, the others are history.

Comment by DH

thanksgiving? youre not a fucking tank? you fucking sellout. the fact im going to eat turkey with auntie and family is pure fucking coincidence.

Comment by andy@cynic

Then stop passing judgement Andrew and get here. The girls are waiting. They still think you are lovely. You will not disappoint them.

Comment by Mary Bryant

Consider yourself told.

Comment by George

my presence is your present.

Comment by andy@cynic

Internal vs external projection. Nice. Bit wanky, but nice. Happy ‘have an excuse for a day off work’ Day.

Comment by Rob

And yes, it’s pure jealousy that wrote that previous comment.

Comment by Rob

I wonder if Rob is on the CIA terrorist list because he’s been caught on camera taking random photos of freeway diners and shopping malls. I hope so.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Won’t work… Virgin don’t fly Guantanamo..

Comment by niko

Actually we do fly to Cuba, Niko.

Excellent country, excellent value.

Comment by Lee Hill

Looking forward to reading rob’s post on that experience..

pretty please Lee.. it is thanksgiving..

Comment by niko

that was another fucking freebie for him wasnt it lee. “birthday present”. how the fuck do you make any money?

Comment by andy@cynic

I still can’t believe you’ve written 2 posts about a fucking book light. You have more shit in you than a sewer. #planners

Comment by Billy Whizz

I enjoyed this Robert. Especially learning about Jill’s quirks.
I agree with Pete. The power in this post is not that people buy things for access to a particular lifestyle or social group, that is old news. It is that many people’s “dreams” are much more intimate and simple. This also is nothing new, but tends to be forgotten as adland and brands prefer to sell themselves as providing access to the ultimate life with the ultimate peer group acceptance/aspiration.
Which is rubbish.

Comment by George

You mean a quirk like marrying Rob?

Can that even be classed as a quirk or is it an act of charity?

Comment by DH

“Adland and brands prefer to sell themselves as providing access to the ultimate life with the ultimate peer group acceptance/aspiration.”

Like Facebook, accompanied with W+K’s worst ever ad?

Yes, chairs are like Facebook. Both involve you sitting on your arse.

Comment by DH

Evil, but funny.

Comment by Pete

fuck me that ad was shit. im assuming uncle dan has thrashed the shit out of the person behind it.

and congrats dave. finally a half decent joke.

Comment by andy@cynic

Mr Calm seems to be riled up. At first I thought it was your hatred of brands over promising and under delivering … and then I saw you’re having Andy & family over for thanksgiving dinner.

Let me rephrase that.

Having Andy over for thanksgiving. The women in his family would be welcomed anywhere they go.

Comment by Rob

And there I was thinking we wandered the supermarket aisles filled with misanthropic thoughts, all too willing to buy stuff that fleetingly convinced us we didn’t have too much time on our hands and too little imagination in our heads.

Comment by John

and there is was thinking its where you tried to pick up lonely housewives. or was that groper in his casanova of the north days?

Comment by andy@cynic

Of all people, you should know NLP reveals all Robert. After all, it was you who brought it to us. For a small fortune if I remember correctly.

Comment by Lee Hill

it didnt cost a fucking fortune, thats just your nlp associating campbell with handing over large wads of fucking cash. or tickets. or fucking anything of big bastard value.

Comment by andy@cynic

True Lee. Well the NLP bit, not the ‘cost a fortune’ bit.

Comment by Rob

Great piece and it got me thinking. The missus is currently redesigning our house to be ‘minimalistic’, I think that 50% of the stuff that is going out was once bought with a ‘fantasy’ in mind and never really used. This includes most gadgets (except everything apple).

Comment by Paul

I should point out that buying things for ‘romantic notions’ doesn’t mean it’s wrong. If it makes us happy, then there has to be something in it … and it’s far healthier than buying something because you think it’s suddenly going to change your social status when in reality, it will highlight how sad you are with your life and make you even more miserable than you started.


Comment by Rob

as long as fuckers buy shit (being honest about we view people who buy our shit is a sign of respect..or wine..) ..


CMO with one foot out the door

Comment by niko

it is interesting how all the bedroom furniture ends up being a open cupboard
Rob, it is my birthday today and i thought it is only fair that you get a opportunity to wish me

Comment by swatidagur (@swatidagur)

Happy birthday to you …

Happy birthday to you …

Happy birthday dear “I don’t quite understand your comment but it’s your birthday so I can let you off” …

Happy birthday to you …

Comment by Rob

Rob, a giant thank you for your lyrics. Your post led me to the right and the right idea for the campaign I’m working on at the moment. Very nice to read you in the mornings. Thank you so much from the planner from the snowy Russia.

Comment by Ajven

Hello – how lovely to hear from a newbie. I am assuming that the reason my post led to you developing the right idea for your client is because you did the opposite of what I was saying … but even if that’s the case, I’m glad it helped in some way.

Great to have you come by, especially from snowy Russia, so I hope we hear from you again.

Comment by Rob

I have been reading your blog for a long time already!:) I’m just shy)

By the way, thank you very much for the advice to read the book “Geography of Thought.” I am extremely pleased and also proved to be very useful! Thank you.

Comment by Ajven

You are way too kind and nice.

Get away before it’s too late … Ha.

Comment by Rob

Only famous Russian friendship, nothing special :))

Comment by Ajven

I love this post and it reinforces my concerns with the Asda and morrisons Christmas stuff which all about the reality if the hard work mums put it- when Christmas is the ultimate time for fantasy (and they say nothing about Asda just that we get you)

Comment by Northern

Funny you should say that, I have a post on that very subject next week. [Yes, pre-writing again]

That said, the Asda spot has one moment at the very end – when she comes out the kitchen and see’s everything is she imagines Christmas in her mind – that just about saves it, except …

1. They ruin the ‘feeling’ by adding a joke of “What’s for dinner love” right at the very end.

2. Which shows they forgot that even though people might not say it, the majority still have a dream that Christmas is something emotionally special.

3. As you said, it basically says nothing about Asda.

As for the Morrisons spot. It feels more like a strat film about how people feel Christmas ends up being rather than what they want Christmas to be and as Jill’s chair and Asda’s light/hot chocolate stories show, sometimes the illusion is more emotionally enticing than the reality.

[That comes across as me advocating manipulation. I’m not – even though it is – I just mean that ‘feelings & emotions’ are often more important that features & function]

Comment by Rob

It’s like the illusion that having an edgy office automatically makes you a creative powerhouse

Comment by Northern

Or thinking that calling yourself ‘media arts’ makes you sound deep and interesting?

Comment by Rob

Stop it, you know I’ll rise to provocations like that.
Now leave me alone, I have APSOTW entries to judge

Comment by northern

[…] The delusion and illusion that makes us buy: planning isn’t just about understanding society’s reality, it’s also about understanding the reality of their fantasy. | The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod […]

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So, I think what you’re saying is, they should have put Night Vision Goggles on the hooks instead?

Comment by Shackleford Hurtmore

Interesting discussion I saw people having on emotion in ads the other day. Saying that actually they don’t like feeling emotions in ads, that they feel manipulated by it.

Was only a couple of people, but would be interesting to see if anyone else thinks that.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’m sure they do … but all ads are designed to manipulate to a certain extent. Even blatantly rational ads … so I have no idea who you were listening to, but if they were in advertising, it’s time they left.

Comment by Rob

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Oh my goodness! Incredible article dude! Many thanks, However I am having
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Is there anybody else getting similar RSS issues? Anyone who knows the solution can you kindly respond?

Comment by Angelo

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