Carpe Diem

Rafael Puyol. Professor. IE Business School

9 March 2009

The excesses of Christmas have been replaced by the stark reality of January, which has spilled over into February. Now it seems that even TV advertisements are part of a conspiracy to make this a long, cruel winter.

This year, weathering the hard slog of a post-Christmas January is hard work. Credit cards are trembling at the knees and tears will fall and teeth will gnash when the bill comes in February.

The Christmas lights have now been well and truly switched off and even TV adverts are different.

During the Christmas celebrations, everything was about consumption. The golden bubbles in the glasses of Cava helped us dream along. The unexpected toys lit up children´s faces. Delightful fragrances could be smelled, evoking an atmosphere that was as sophisticated as it was improbable. Everything was love and luxury - even the Christmas turkey enjoyed it!

Now, however, it´s carpe diem!! The light has turned to dark, where there was luxury there is now sobriety, and penance is the order of the day following all the excesses in the search for relief from both cursory ills and those that are past the point of no return.

Still I managed to keep my spirits up, until, that is, I happened to watch the TV advertisements that appeared in the few minutes between the end of a news programme and the weather forecast.

One recommended a yoghurt for helping digestion, obviously intestinal digestion because even twice the recommended amount would be hard pushed to remedy any other kind.

Another guaranteed effective relief from haemorrhoids and their devastating effects on unmentionable parts of the body. In yet another a magnificent actress promised a guaranteed remedy for slight "losses" which, from the context, I gathered had nothing to do with memory. A good-looking middle-aged man guaranteed that my hair wouldn´t fall out with a shampoo that would have done Samson proud and another, somewhat older, guaranteed that no one would lose their dentures in a battle with an obstinate piece of sirloin.

Advertisements for improving health, enhancing beauty or disguising the years are timeless. But it is almost as if in certain periods of the year they are elbowed out of the way by the other market players and messages. Can you imagine the Freixenet bubbles people with digestive problems due to an insufficient amount of ‘active bifidus’ or slight losses due to irreparable mechanical faults? No, of course not. These things are for the post-Christmas January slog because the excesses of Christmas also have to be paid in instalments, and the first one is due to be paid around now.


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