A great new ad campaign designed by Carmichael Lynch for GNC Holdings — the huge health-products retailer — takes aim at the grotesque self-esteem movement that has, since the 1980s, made narcissism the new normal.
We at the low end of the self-esteem spectrum tend to be baffled by all this unmerited self-adoration and by a culture in which every player gets a trophy just for being there — while we refuse to accept even the smallest compliments, much less take credit for our own achievements. Were one of us to singlehandedly end world hunger, we’d look around blankly when offered a Nobel Prize and say, “No way.”
Addressing an audience that is huge but is definitely not us, this ad campaign — titled “Beat Average,” based on the notion that in a narcissistic society, average is the new good — makes hilarious fun of those on the sky-high end of the self-esteem spectrum whose self-adoration makes them lazily complacent: in this case, about their health. Various scenes depict people making excuses for not having made healthy lifestyle choices: One drop of rain sends a woman racing off the sports field, for instance.
“Average has memory issues,” the narrator says mockingly as people in cars and in workplaces smack themselves on the forehead and say, “Oops! I forgot to work out!”
We with low self-esteem don’t need to worry about this particular mindgame. But it’s funny to see an expensive ad campaign aimed at those self-lovers who do.