I was playing with Ringo yesterday. By the way, don’t let those innocent puppy-eyes fool you, the wrong circumstances can transform him into twelve pounds of fearless, chihuahua-hybrid fury.

Our favorite game is: I hold onto one side of a rope-toy while he tries to get it away from me. One day, during this light-hearted tug-of-war, it struck me that the need to have stuff was hot-wired into every living thing. The need to possess, to own, to control—has to be directly linked to our strategy for survival.

Imagine the first homo sapiens anxiously looking over their shoulders for four-legged carnivores, worrying about the next meal and guardedly protecting their collection of tools, rocks and skins. I think those ‘old brain’ tissue memories retained from millions of evolutionary years shape our behavior today. More than we realize.

Is this what buddhist philosophy does its best to quell in our nature? Is this need to possess and protect material possessions the motivator that builds nations?

Is it possible to isolate this aspect of ourselves, understand it and be rid of it? And, less importantly, is this aspect of ourselves something marketers have to understand?

Apple apparently does. Their  brilliant strategy of launching products with limited availability communicates this: ‘If you want to own and possess the next cool thing get in line…’

And we line up like puppies.


colin shubitz, president and creative director, CSA&D, inc.