The Spirituality of Marketing and Cinema

“I think cinema resonates with a piece of our brain that is way, way in the back. Because the way you watch a movie is not the way we watch life. When you go to a mall, yes, you’re absorbing, subliminally, Drink Coke, and Buy this, and Buy that. But cinema is different because when you go to a theater, it’s like you are going to church. You sit in a pew, and you look at an altar, and the reception is completely different.” — Guillermo Del Toro, Cabinet of Curiosities

I’ve always been to some extent intrigued by spirituality. From religious icons and stories to the manipulation of senses in order to subvert the pulls of modern life.

As I read Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities, I found the quote above that compared the spiritual and mythical nature of cinema to the realities of life and marketing and it got me thinking about the spirituality of marketing and how culturally our faith in the market and Capitalism has replaced our trust in the divine.

For some, marketing and advertising is their church. The temple in which they weave stories of redemption and sin. Instead of martyrs, saints, and sinners, we have products, services, and competition. “You have sinned,” if you use this brand. “Your life will change forever,” if you use this other brand. We have labeled the promise of eternal salvation as impossible and those who believe as childish. And yet, we label the smooth words of advertising as truth.

As marketing continues to take on the appearance of cinema in order to become more entertaining and to subvert the radar people have for an ad, will our brain in the “way, way back,” as del Toro writes, be rewired and repurposed for the greater good of selling vacuum cleaners and insurance? Will the worth of our individual lives be measured by how much we buy?