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01.12.2015, admin  
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With Christmas over and the New Year upon us, many of us are feeling the effects of overindulgence and turning our minds to that age-old New Yeara€™s resolution - weight loss.But is there anything that can help shift that festive flab along with - or instead of - diet and exercise?Slimming products such as pills and food supplements can be effective if combined with a balanced, healthy, low calorie diet, says Omar El-Gohary, Superintendent Pharmacist for ChemistDirect.
The manufacturers claim that this product binds to carbohydrates and reduces their absorption. Adios Max contains fucus which is traditionally used in herbal medicine to aid weight loss.
When Celevac tablets come into contact with water they swell in the gut and send messages to the brain giving a feeling of fullness that helps reduce appetite. The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. I find it fascinating that all the marketing skills we have today were used by people thousands of years ago. At the simpler end of the market, products dona€™t need a brand a€“ they just need to work.
Religions, spiritual movements, political ideologies, self-help theories and therapies are all examples of services which can't succeed without effective branding. Having taken over story from early religion, the a€?majora€™ religions introduced a high-profile brand feature: the symbolic individual. It has been recently recognised that when people make a buying decision, they are not really buying a product but what they believe it will do for them. Brands have to change to suit circumstance, but the strategy has to be properly thought through. Deliberate attempts at rebranding in order to reverse a perceived decline often dona€™t work or have unforeseen adverse effects.
Only religion has succeeded in using the carrot-and-stick technique in which negative reinforcers such as guilt, fear and hatred work alongside positive reinforcers such as inclusion, security and reward.
From positive and negative reinforcement, the invention of the bad guy as antithesis of the mascot follows easily. The major religions use one tool that commercial products and services can't use: punishment for failing to buy or for ceasing to buy. Products are often rebranded to match changes in perception, in order to retain customer loyalty. Subud's problem at present is that its brand is inauthentic, whereas the product itself is quite a good one. The success of a brand depends less on what it actually does than what it promises to do, though it should not mislead. The latihan exercise is practised two or three times a week for half an hour, either alone or in a group, where men and women do the exercise separately (in line with Muslim religious tradition).
The manufacturer also claims that copal helps prevent the absorption of simple carbohydrates. Currently there isna€™t enough evidence to back up the manufacturers claims that this is an effective appetite suppressant.Other side effects include flatulence and abdominal distension. They may have believed iron age superstitions but they could learn nothing from us about marketing because they knew the secrets of branding: the creation and projection into the market of a generic identity and buying incentive for a product or service thata€™s otherwise difficult to sell. No-one ever bothered to create a brand for spoons or wheelbarrows - but to market a vacuum cleaner, a car or a broadband provider, you need a brand. Christianity makes full use of the two most powerful marketing words known to man: a€?newa€™ and a€?freea€™.
Logo, corporate identity, endorsements, free offers, unique selling proposition (USP) and perhaps most important of all: story. Moses, Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha are the religious equivalent of brand mascots such as the Jolly Green Giant, the Pillsbury Dough Boy, Sunny Jim, Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders. In the 1990s Wranglers decided to expand from its core product, jeans, into the general clothing market; the attempt was a costly failure a€“ no-one believed Wranglers could make fashionable suits and jackets.
Christianitya€™s claim on universality led to its adopting many of the rites and festivals of paganism on the basis that these were all better expressed in Christian terms.
Successful rebrands are the ones we hardly notice as they either dona€™t concern us or offer us more of what we believe we want. In commercial marketing, only positive emotions such as well-being, rewards, security and inclusiveness are addressed.
The rewards and punishments are big: eternal bliss in a world after death, contrasted with eternal torture or countless lifetimes of suffering. In commercial marketing the bad guy would take the form of an anti-mascot whose purpose is to stop you gaining the benefit symbolized by the mascot. Microsoft can't claim, although it might want to, that Mac users will have a terrible life, because there are plenty of Mac users who can easily refute the claim. If the product can be shown not to deliver on its promises, the customer will be disillusioned and look elsewhere. Christianity today places much less emphasis on hell than it did in the middle ages, and accuses no-one of being a witch or a heretic.
The claims a€“ spiritual development without doctrine or hierarchy a€“ are at variance with the facts. At the time of writing there is a furore over Subud's perceived anti-gay stance based on statements such as 'Homosexuality is not allowed by religion and it is not allowed by God. Their use of 'loss leaders' is a manipulative ploy that exploits people's willingness to believe what they are told as long as it comes from a trusted authority.


His talks contain a wealth of material from Javanese, HIndu, Muslim and Naqshbandi Sufi sources.
Side effects of this product are rare but may include rapid heart rate and elevated blood pressure. In much early religion story is the only clearly identifiable factor a€“ creation myth, disaster myth and divine intervention, making religion indistinguishable from story at the ordinary level. Early religions certainly had heroes, but Heracles, Perseus, Theseus, Osiris, Apollo, Thor, Krishna and others were not the sole focus figure of their respective religious frameworks.
Think of the famous campaign for margarine based on the slogan a€?I cana€™t believe ita€™s not butter.a€™ People bought the margarine in the belief that it tasted as good as butter. You may believe that a sports shoe with a flash on it will make you run faster than one without.
To survive in the market a business must grow, and for that it needs an effective strategy. User endorsements are the most reliable way of creating confidence in a product or service whose claim is unverifiable in advance. More recently Pepsi-Cola tried one last effort to reverse its decline against Coca-Cola by rebranding itself with the colour blue, thereby shrinking its market share still further. There is no evidence that Christians originally believed Jesus to have been born (of a virgin) around the time of the winter solstice or to have been crucified and resurrected around the time of the spring celebration; but as these were major pagan festivals it was expedient to rebrand Christianity according to the pagan calendar. The commercial marketing industry has learned that whenever a negative reinforcer has been tried it has always failed, sometimes spectacularly, as in the 'You're Never Alone with a Strand' cigarette campaign. To get people to believe these claims required, and still requires, a massive marketing effort.
Religion can claim what it likes about eternal punishment because its claims can't be proved false. They aim to expand their membership, and in order to do that they must have an effective marketing programme based on a strong brand.
Like many other spiritual movements Subud also plays the 'tradition' card: offering a connection that goes right back to the beginning. In order to get round this difficulty and retain customer loyalty the promise of all 'major' religions is that the reward lies in another domain, i.e.
Current Pope Francis says things like a€?When God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person? Supermarkets, like politicians and spiritual leaders, use various strategies to project themselves as trustworthy, friendly and 'on the customer's side'.
Much of the material deals with the correct conditions for doing the latihan exercise, the 'lower forces' contained in the nafsu (passions), the organisation of the Subud movement and the setting up of businesses. This consists of asking a question, putting oneself into the surrendered latihan state, and seeing what comes through.
Because the more complex or rarefied the product or service, the harder it is to establish a perceived benefit in advance of purchase. Later religions owe much to their use of story to address psychological problems such as insecurity and guilt.
In the Middle East the cults of Tammuz, Adonis, Zardush (Zoroaster) or Mithras lost a€?market sharea€™ to the monotheistic religions, despite sharing many of their features, because the latter had stronger brands. In the consumer market, the incentive is money, and people with proven marketing skills are very highly paid. There are such things as stable, non-market-driven economies operating without the assumption that more is better and that security comes from having the most stuff. More successful have been McDonalda€™s attempt to claw back public goodwill lost in the junk food furore by projecting itself as sustainable and energy-efficient; tourist destinations such as Ireland, Tunisia and Egypt use seductive advertising to overcome the fear of terrorist attacks.
Islama€™s pioneering and disinterested pursuit of science and philosophy increased the acceptability of its brand in medieval Europe. People always associate the brand with the dominant emotion, even if the product is portrayed as conquering it. The Hamburglar tries to steal hamburgers away from children, and Ronald McDonald gets them back. This, however, undermines its case to be stating the truth (see Karl Popper, falsifiability theory).
It should come as no surprise to any Subud member who has read this far that Subud has such a programme. It is also universalist: the 'one stop shop' - you can get everything you need here, why bother looking elsewhere? It must either endorse the statements and practices of Pak Subuh and his followers, in which case it officially becomes a popularised Javanese cult (nothing inherently wrong in that), or revert to its original form in which such things are of peripheral interest compared to the 'product' (the spiritual exercise), the USP (no teaching, no hierarchy) and the story (how Pak Subuh received the latihan) which, again, is quite a good one.
Having acquired the trust and confidence of their customers they are then in a position to make statements and carry out actions which are not questioned.
It claims to have no hierarchy, no teachings and no other set practice than the surrender exercise. An effective brand will not only persuade a customer to buy, but also ensure continued purchase (a€?brand loyaltya€™).
Convince people they are getting something for nothing and theya€™ll not only flock to buy your product, theya€™ll be grateful! To solve these problems they first had to establish ownership of their solutions, in exactly the same way as a marketing campaign for GM food claims to solve third world hunger, or a supermarket a€?beats the recessiona€™ by claiming to create jobs and slash prices.


Not surprisingly, societies with non-expansionist economies tend to have non-expansionist religions, if they have religions at all.
Islamic religious tracts are full of a€?so-and-so saida€™ or a€?so-and-so heard such-and-such saya€™. The dogmatist Al-Ghazali single-handedly reversed that trend by introducing the idea that God was directly involved in every natural phenomenon, therefore nothing could be studied in the absence of theology.
This particular campaign was predictably short-lived, since it followed the rule that advertising which focuses on a negative attaches the negative to the brand.
There World Subud Association (WSA) hosts regular discussions about promoting the message of Subud and protecting its reputation. The appeal of a single product 'specially formulated' for all types of application - engine oil, shampoo, plant feed etc. Pak Subuh said, 'you will only know the benefit of the latihan after you die' (1985, S Widjojo Centre, Jakarta). There are customer endorsements aplenty, the logo is strong, the free offer is there ('no charge, contributions welcome') a€“ everything is in place but one: a clear and accurate brand.
Powerful marketing tools such as logo, endorsement, free offer, unique selling proposition and story access the emotional, not the logical part of the brain. The key element is belief in God (the latihan exercise is believed to be guidance and direction from the power of God). The story of the specially-engineered solution to the perceived problem becomes part of the brand.
In the established a€?brandsa€™ there is a payment for services rendered: the notion that if one a€?buys ina€™ to certain ideas, one gets something in return - heavenly rewards, increased merit, good fortune, nirvana or some such thing, desire for which has been created and developed by the marketing department concerned. The religions with the most aggressive strategies arise out of market economies, and offer bonuses for spreading the word. Christian scriptures and hagiographies consist largely of deeds, sayings and observations recorded by witnesses. This led directly to the loss of Islama€™s lead in technology and the decline of its global influence a€“ something that Al-Ghazali could not have intended. This resulted in people associating the product with the negative emotion and abandoning it in droves. It is possible to influence people radically, but one must first know what they believe, or are willing to believe.
This concept of divine remuneration is central to all the a€?greata€™ religions, whose designers established such promised rewards as physical resurrection from the dead, eternal life in paradise, or freedom from reincarnation and attainment of eternal bliss; a benefit that they not only expected to receive themselves but offered as an incentive to others. Some of them eulogise martyrdom a€“ what could be a better customer endorsement than the willingness to defend a product to the death? Brand loyalty is built on the fact that the more opinions you hear reinforcing a certain sales message, the more likely you are to believe it yourself.
Judaism a€?rebrandeda€™ itself successfully after the sack of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple, by removing the requirement for sacrifice and instituting the synagogue and the rabbinate. The initial spread of Subud a€“ a God-centred organisation a€“ was solely due to the efforts of a man displeasing to God. Earlier religions had less well-developed incentive schemes; as a Viking warrior who died in battle you might go to Valhalla and drink mead, but only in order to fight again with Odin at the last battle of Ragnarok!
The ultimate customer endorsement, dying for the brand, seems excessive to most people today but nevertheless fits the category. This fundamental reconfiguration enabled it to survive without the core elements by which it had previously defined itself, but limited the brand's appeal.
This if nothing else places Subud in a ludicrous position and I find it most odd that no Subud leader has ever publicly remarked on the fact, certainly not Pak Subuh himself nor his daughter Ibu Rahayu (currently the main Subud opinion-former).
As an ancient Greek or Egyptian you would expect your behaviour in life to determine your fate after death, but you would have no concept of special bonuses for promulgating the faith, or dying for it.
A customer has bought the product and is so satisfied with it that he makes his satisfaction public in the most irrefutable way possible. I don't know any anti-gay Subud members and the ones I know share my personal view that Pak Subuh's doctrines are at best quaint, at worst inaccurate and ignorant.
But remember that brands do not appeal to common sense, but to the emotions, first of all building desire and then positioning a product or service so as to appear to fulfil that desire. It might be thought a bit odd that in Christianity the mascot (Jesus) endorses the brand (dies for his belief) in order first of all to create it. It underwent various tranformations on its journey, most noticeable of which is the alteration of the Buddhaa€™s image from Indian thin to Chinese fat, representing the change from the original Indian ideal of balance and discipline to the Chinese one of happiness and prosperity. Customer loyalty has to be very strong to overcome this problem, and latihan experience itself is often the overrider.
It would be as if the Jolly Green Giant advertised tinned peas by writing his own testimonial on the tin a€“ it wouldna€™t work, because we know the Jolly Green Giant is not real. Which explains why the early struggle of Christianity centred on proving the historicity of Jesus. If the brand mascot is a real person, not just a symbol, it can do all kinds of things a mere icon cana€™t do.




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