Why Do We Miss What’s Bad for Us?

This year, I had to give up cheese burgers. I miss them, especially when I’m on the road. I travel across the country giving talks on the RenGen, and I’ve discovered that burgers can tell you a lot about a place. Does this town insist on fresh lettuce? With hot fries or cold chips? (Fries rule, okay.) Do they serve them with pride?

So many of us are letting go of bad habits these days, still others are acquiring them. I was interested to learn that Altria is taking more than 80 percent of its marketing dollars overseas to places like Turkey, where it’s still cool to smoke.

Mind you, I don’t judge smoking. I’m a reformed social smoker myself. But what I’ll really miss is the exportation of Altria’s brave, visionary sponsorship portfolio. They sponsored everything from BAM Next Festival to stock car racing, the latter proved fatal for both. It’s crazy when people hate you and your product and your brand, but still buy your product–there is a tremendous freedom in that. It gives you the liberty to go out and take marketing risks that manufacturers of cotton swabs, let’s say, would never take. Cotton swabs are jim dandy, people just don’t crave them.

Consider also that scientists at the Mayo Clinic’s Nicotine Dependence Center have learned that smokers have billions more of the receptors in areas of the brain that have to do with pleasure and reward. Altria’s use of event sponsorship, which is far more sensorial than outdoor or print, helped reinforce their customers loyalties in more ways than one.

Do certain brands, products, experiences, even people have the power to seduce us and make us lonesome when they go?