Our Dumb Century: More Marketing Dont’s

The company that owns 90% of Phoenix’s malls uses this tagline for its brand:

Nirvana for the passionate shopper.

First, although it sounds nice and new agey and calming, the biggest mistake here is using the terms passionate and nirvana together in the same sentence. Nirvana is the complete absence of desire (in many Buddhist traditions); passion epitomizes the most intense expression of desire—now, desire to the point of suffering, the complete lack of an object leading to the near destruction of the self.

Nirvana itself encompasses many ideas, but among the most important are senses of “extinction” and “extinguishing.” Nirvana is the end of the cycle of birth and rebirth.

Shopping, on the other hand, is typcially evidence of the perception of lack: there is something we need and we go out in search of it at the mall. Both “needs” and “wants” are expressions of desire and therefore of lack: in order to experience desire, we must first perceive the absence of something within ourselves. For example, I frequently perceive the lack of shoes in my closet.

A person who has achieved nirvana would be the opposite of passionate and would have no desires, thereby extinguishing any need to go shopping. This slogan, then, implies that entering one of Westcor’s spaces will cause the shopper to experience the extinguishing of their desire to spend their money, making its own existence paradoxically obsolete.

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