The mid-autumn festival is upon us once again.
During this time, it’s our national obligation to eat mooncakes and for some, regurgitate stories about its origin.
As with most myths, there are many versions.
This one begins with the three immortals leaving heaven and visiting earth.
To test the hearts of living beings, they disguise themselves as three old men looking for food.
They come across a fox, a monkey and a rabbit and ask them for something to eat.
All 3 animals are happy to oblige.
The fox catches a fish while the monkey finds some fruit.
Both lay their offerings before the old men.
The rabbit, however, comes back with nothing.
No hay, no grass, no fruit, not even a half-eaten carrot.
For a moment, everybody stops and looks at Thumper.
Not one to admit defeat, the rabbit asks the fox and monkey to gather some firewood.
Both animals scurry away and promptly return with a pile of wood.
The rabbit finds the driest sticks, rubs them together and starts a fire.
When the fire is in full force, the rabbit stands up, beats her chests and announces to the three immortals, “I have failed to find food. Therefore, I willingly offer myself to be eaten.”
Before anybody could say anything, the rabbit jumps into the fire.
The three immortals were amazed, and deeply moved at the rabbit’s sacrifice.
They watch as the rabbit burns to a crisp until only her bones were left.
One of the immortals breaks the silence, “I am so touched. To honor the rabbit, I will let her go to the Moon Palace, so that people can see her forever.”
From here, we can draw several parallels to the ad world.
The three immortals are the clients.
The fox, the monkey and the rabbit are three different agencies.
Lesson 1: Clients don’t always know how to tell you what they want.
All clients have interesting problems. They don’t always know how to tell it in an interesting way.
The three immortals, being immortals, obviously don’t need food.
Asking for food is simply a way to ‘test the heart’ of living beings.
The fox and monkey answered the brief.
The rabbit understood the assignment and was rewarded.
Lesson 2: Agencies will work without checking client’s background
Not all agencies but some. Especially small agencies hungry for business.
We don’t know if the animals knew who exactly was asking for food.
They brought the best grub at the expense of not feeding their own families.
They also gathered sticks and rather unfortunately, assisted in a suicide.
All because three hungry old men appeared out of nowhere demanding to be fed.
Lesson 3: The family is always neglected
The rabbit literally worked herself to death.
After which, she was summarily resurrected and dispatched to the moon.
Rest assured Thumper is not running wild and free on the sea of tranquility but working harder than ever for her new master from Day 1 and for all eternity.
On a side note, the moon does not have a conducive atmosphere for oxygen-breathing beings but I guess that’s a minor detail.
Did the rabbit get a chance to bid farewell to her family? No.
Was the family informed of the rabbit’s new address? Again, nope.
Is the family still waiting for food? Given Thumper’s hunting/ gathering skills- they’re probably used to waiting.
After the forest incident, the three immortals packed up and left for wherever immortals go to.
They didn’t touch the food brought by the fox and monkey.
Also, nobody seems to like the taste of roasted rabbit.
Wishing all agencies and clients a happy and prosperous mid-autumn festival. May your plates always be full, and may you find the time to enjoy them with family and friends.
Edward Ong has already eaten too many mooncakes. Writing about mooncakes is somehow strangely therapeutic. He is the Founder and Creative Director of Borderless, a consultancy that works with clients inhouse teams. Find him at IdeasAreBorderless.com
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