I don’t know if you have heard about the commercial that won this year’s Cannes advertising festival’s grand price. In this spot, developed for Ikea by the Miami based advertising agency Crispin Porter we are encouraged to take pity on an old lamp that’s being tossed on the street as garbage. Then, from the perspective of the old lamp out in the pouring rain, through the window, we see the former owner sitting in an armchair, reading a book – in the light of the lamps’s replacement. Suddenly, a man appears to confront our brains with our emotions – “Many of you feel bad for this lamp. That is because you are crazy – It has no feelings. And the new one is much better.”
It is a spot most people will instantly be able to connect to, for it is telling us a fundamental truth about ourselves. It may strike us as strange when rationalising about it, but furniture does become emotionally charged over time, just like the famous old leather jacket.
It may no longer be beautiful, or even no longer fulfilling the function we initially bought it for. But it’s been with us in good times and in bad. Just like the scientists, say cultural anthrolpologists, who conduct garbage research to find out about other cultures’ lifestyle, we know that the things we own(ed), are telling. But while the things we own can tell others something about us, for ourselves they are containers of our idiosyncracies, only for us they retell the stories of our life.
They can connect us to ourself – something no new, beautiful, functional jacket, lamp, or desk can achieve. So is it really surprising that replacing something this close creates cognitive dissonances? Should I really? Who actually knows the new stuff will be better…
Yes, my gentle readers, I am telling you this because right now, I am emptying my old main desk to replace it with a new, bigger, hopefully even more functional, and clearly more beautful model. It’s something I somehow really want to do – my credit card bill is sufficient proof thereof. But then again, just as the clever ad agency realised, it’s not easy to part when emptying a drawer is somewhat like going through your childhood boxes in your parents’ attic.
So I thought the least I could do was write this little hommage to my old desk. And to promise I won’t put it out in the rain.
Actually, it has a new and hopefully exciting professional challenge in the basement :). But it will not be the first to read my comment’s on this weekend’s government proposals, which I will write later.