There’s an old joke about two explorers walking through the dry veldt grasses and coming across a lion. As they back away, one turns and starts running.
The other calls out, “Why are you running so fast? You can’t outrun a lion.”
The first replies, “I don’t have to outrun the lion. I just have to outrun you!”
I assume they weren’t friends. Friends, most likely, would have stood together and confronted the lion.
I was thinking about this as I was driving to work, north on the tollway that bends around Chicago. The speed limit is 55. I was doing 67 in the “slow” lane, trying to preserve gas while not becoming a “relatively” stationary target. Others were passing me at 75 or more.
I was struck by the thought that I would seldom see anyone going the same speed I was going since they would not be passing me and thus forcing themselves on my attention … and that anyone going slower would, of course, not be seen at all (if behind me) and only slowly revealed as I overtook them.
The cars I did see, the ones passing me, represented a sampling bias.
It then occurred to me that the point of advertising is to make the consumer think that everyone is passing him on the “highway of life” and also that the consumer is part of the anonymous stampeding herd rather than some one individual’s friend.
It’s not like that, of course. In the first place, friends would stand with you. In the second place, there is no lion.