In the office
As we were discussing Maslow's hierarchy in class (especially the bit about enduring deprivation reducing our tolerance for future deprivation), I kept thinking about a recent read in The New York Times. I found it again, called "Chilly at Work? Office Formula Was Devised for Men.” The story was actually rooted in data from the journal Nature Climate change (this one was titled "Energy consumption in buildings and female thermal demand"). The study reported that average office temperatures overestimate the female metabolic rate by 35 percent. I'll steer clear of discussing the fairness or unfairness of gendered temperature differences, but this creates a natural experiment related to the productivity of employees who are physically uncomfortable. Other studies, like this one, have indicated that there is a correlation and likely causation between productivity and temperature. Just as using the restroom or grabbing a bite to eat can clear our heads to buckle down and think about the task at hand, so can the right office temperature.
As a personal anecdote, I had a small office to myself at a newspaper right after college. I started my internship in the summer and often wore skirts and sandals. I had to switch to sweaters and long pants even when temperatures outside exceeded 100* F. At times, I had to wear fingerless gloves to keep my hands from stiffening up because it was so cold. Before I was able to adapt by adding blankets and clothing (and eventually rigging a folder over the vent to direct the HVAC system away from me), I constantly felt sluggish and distractible. I had to take breaks to keep myself focused. I found it nearly impossible to be productive when I was so cold.
In an ad
Much like the car commercial we watched in class, there is a series of Old Spice commercials that also hit notes of esteem on Maslow's hierarchy. Products that can't sell themselves on tangible values (save me time, money or energy) have to rely on advertising intangible values - e.g. any unit or combination of units in the hierarchy. It seems like most products stay away from self-actualization but certainly address self-esteem, respect, confidence, sexual intimacy, friendship or family and basic success (e.g. mastery of safety and physiological units of hierarchy).
Play-by-play: The Old Spice ad opens on Isaiah Mustafa (attractive, fit man) standing in a bath towel as he addresses "ladies." Isaiah asks women watching to compare their man to him. The ad insinuates that they will fall short unless they use Old Spice. As an Old Spice man, they will have access to anything they need — from concert tickets to diamonds, boats and white horses. The implication is that Old Spice gives men access to romantic relationships (love/belonging) as well as confidence, respect and achievement (esteem). From the ad, "Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady." By addressing the ladies watching the ad, Old Spice actually effectively accesses their target - heterosexual men. The implication is that they will only have access to a romantic relationships if they use Old Spice. There are a series of Old Spice ads in this one-shot style featuring Isaiah Mustafa. They're short, funny and unique. They are quite tongue-in-cheek which makes them a little ridiculous but still really effective. Here's the ad: