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Happiness factories

January 24, 2008

The advertising industry has spent over a century injecting products was happiness molecules to make the act of purchasing that much more desirable.

The business is all about adding levels and layers of desirability to products.

We know it works, science has proven it and we are learning more and more about how happiness works in the brain thanks to the emerging world of neuroscience.

Some theorists might assume the more we understand the brain the more adept we will become at selling things to people.

We will know exactly what turns people on, each and every one of us, right down to an individual level.

However, it’s far from certain that unleashing the magic bullet that encourages rapid consumption is the right thing to be doing, there’s that big idea
of sustainability that seems to get in the way of such progress.

National leaders in Europe have been looking at new ways to measure growth and are thinking about things like happiness, as alternatives to old-fashioned
measures like GDP/head.

However, if shopping and buying are the things that make us happy, aren’t we just going to end up reinforcing the problem.

Designers (Reed Seifer) have even put an ironic twist on the whole idea by selling “Optimism” badges by the jar.

Jar of Optimism

Is it possible that by 2025 the advertising industry could be peddling happiness without even selling the products that go with it?

Could these be little digital blipverts of joy designed to make the public happy, brought to you by the next generation of pharmaceutical companies, who instead of selling pills, sell happiness subscription services, to consumers withdrawn from the pleasures of consumption?

Posted by Ed Cotton

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