Taoism and Advertising: Serenity

Fill your bowl to the brim
and it will spill.
Keep sharpening your knife
and it will blunt.
Chase after money and security
and your heart will never unclench.
Care about people’s approval
and you will be their prisoner.

Do your work, then step back.
The only path to serenity.

Advertising and marketing is a tough business, especially today. Faster timelines, exponentially greater options, unexpected competition at every turn. Turbulence in the marketplace is ever-increasing, and will not abate any time soon.

The above passage in the Tao sends a message that is very relevant today, as it counsels balance and centered-ness. With new social media vehicles and tactics at every turn, and new ways to ‘measure’ consumer response, the temptation is greater than ever to chase public opinion, and to end up chasing one’s own tail like the proverbial mad dog.

“Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner.” Hard words to live by when you work in marketing or communications, as courting people’s approval seems to be one’s job description. But in truth, great marketing, branding and communications is, and will always be, about insightful truth-telling. Think of the brands we find most inspiring. They stand for something meaningful. They “do their work, and step back.”