The Latest Fad: Living Life to the Fullest

lifetakesvisa.jpgVisa debuted its “Life Takes Visa” ad campaign a couple of months back during the olympics, highlighting a major trend in advertising of late: living life. Or perhaps it’s living life again - a getting back to the earthy basics - friends and family, wholesomeness, judicious amounts of play and self-indulgence in between the grindstones.

When I read about the campaign in the newspaper right before it actually debuted, it fell flat. But then seeing the ads changed my mind and I’ve come to quite like it. My favorite is probably the one entitled “Life Takes Risk” with a guy sniffing a carton of milk with a hopefully raised eyebrow and skeptically wrinkled nostril.

Visa is not alone in this, I’ve spotted quite a few companies taking the Life angle. Grocery chain Safeway started a campaign a few months back positioning them as supplying “Ingredients For Life,” full of pictures of fresh sweetcorn and strawberries and people running through meadows.

On a slightly different tack, Kaiser Permanente has been pushing a “Thrive” message, similarly accompanied by billboards with gigantic blueberries.

76life.gifMy most recent sighting came while pumping gas the other day at a 76 station where I noticed an ad on top of the pump stating that “Life Happens Between Empty and Full”. Something about this one really rubs me the wrong way, perhaps the implication that life only exists inside the car, when really mostly time in the car is spent getting ready for the actual life living. (They are also using Rotis, what has become a highly over-exposed font, which is unfortunate as it’s really a terrific font…)

One could argue that Citibank kicked the whole thing off a few years back with their “Live Richly” campaign which has consistently put out “make you think for a moment” bon mots. It was a harbinger of things to come, as cynically as it might have seemed at the time, but obviously has struck a chord that I think goes beyond echo-chamber me-too advertising. There’s something broader going on here.

Is this another stage of reaction to 9/11, a pop culture expression of a broad social gestalt? We’ve gone through anger, grief, recovery, and now onto, perhaps, living life once more.