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Kmart's New Ad Campaign in Australia - What does a $9 toaster mean for all of us?
Caught a bit of TV last night and saw the new ad for Kmart Australia. Whoa! A father and son go into a Kmart and come across a shelf loaded with a zillion different types of toaster. The son likes the look of one at his end. The dad likes the look of the one at his end...but then they meet in the middle and the Dad is all chuffed with his $9 toaster. $9! The toaster was packaged in a fancy printed cardboard box and it got me wondering (again!) about how as a society we've been so easily tricked into thinking that cheap is cheap...that there are no hidden costs. That life is all about getting a bargain and getting lots of them.
Seriously...a $9 toaster? So its components would be metals, precious metals for the electronics, certainly plastics made from non-renewable 0il. Then we have the box made from cardboard, the colour inks, and the internal packaging. Then there is all the costs and pollution that went into its production, from the initial mine extraction or tree felling and the shipping to the factory where it was produced, then its shipping from a far off land (back to) to Australian shores, then it would have been trucked around our our vast nation to various Kmart stores. Oh yeh...and how much were the people paid to actually make this toaster? What is the cost to people and the planet? So how can it only cost $9?
It's interesting that the cost of living we can't afford to avoid keep rising (rents, mortgages, rates, medical costs, healthy food, transport), while the cost of diversions (plasmas, computer games) , electronics and junk food seem to keep falling.
Kmart Australia is owned by Wesfarmers who have seriously morphed from where they began in 1918 as a Western Australian farmers cooperative. Maybe they should rename themselves PlanetFarmers because they tend to dig a lot of it up and sell it back to us. Now they own: Coles, Target, KMart, Bunnings, Office Works, Harris Technology, Begalla Open Cut Coal Mine in the Hunter Valley, Premier Coal Open Cut mine in WA, Curragh Mine in QLD, as well as in the insurance field Lumley Insurance, OAMPS, WFI and Crombie Lockwood. Then there's CSBP Chemicals, Queensland Nitrates, the sodium cyanide producer Australian Gold Reagents, Australian Vinyls, Modwood, Kleen Heat Gas, Air Liquide WA, enGen and CSBP Fertilisers. And then there's the Industrial & Safety Division with even more companies in it!
Is a company like this interested in bringing us a toaster that has longevity, or will this $9 toaster need replacing just after its 12 month warranty runs out? What kind of quality do we get for $9? What kind of conditions and pay do the factory workers receive? What does a $9 toaster mean for our planet as a whole? And what does it say about our society that an ad agency knew the way to get Australians to come in and buy was to spend a huge amount of money advertising a $9 toaster.
"But people are doing it tough, we need a $9 toaster" you might say. Sure - but we actually need to investigate, solve and minimise the factors behind why the middle class is feeling the squeeze and others are falling into multi-generational poverty, and we need to think about the real poverty outside our borders where people need to work for a month to even be able to afford a $9 toaster! We can't just bandaid all these problem with a cheap way to cook bread.
There's a lot riding on our morning toast and it ain't just vegemite!
If you haven't already seen the Story of Stuff, check it out here. It's a short movie that helps explain the true cost of all the stuff we buy.