Whom do you love? No, really. Not whom do you say you love? Dig deeper. Whom do you really, really love?
Might it be those secretly cuddly oil barons at Exxon? Or perhaps it's the public-spirited, morally motivated investigators at the National Enquirer?
My questions aren't spurious. Well, no more than usual. For I am in possession of a survey that might force you to book two sessions with your chosen mental health professional this week.
This survey, conducted by ad agency Y&R, purports to go deeper in order to measure people's true feelings toward brands.
The surveyors used a technique called Implicit Association. This was one that had a role in Malcolm Gladwell's book "Blink." It niftily measures your more unconscious feelings.
And what a festering mess of contradictions the unconscious reveals.
Where, on the conscious level, brands like Google and Apple are at the very top of favored responses, deeper down those brands are deeper down.
At the very top of the unconscious spectrum are Target, Amazon, and Facebook. Indeed, Amazon is the only brand that more or less matches conscious and unconscious responses.
Not too far behind them -- and far ahead of Apple and Google -- lie two brands that you truly mightn't expect: Exxon and the National Enquirer.
Even McDonalds is above Apple. Kmart and AT&T are above Google.
Is this time not merely to shut down the government, but also the country? Is humanity so twisted, so tortured in psychological perversion that there is no hope?
More Technically Incorrect
But let's try and understand what might be occurring here. Could it be that people realize that Exxon, the National Enquirer, and Facebook fill far deeper, more elemental needs than do Apple and Google?
Could it be that we're deeply grateful that the oilies provide us with gas to help us get away from our dismissive families, our boring jobs and inconvenient indictments in unfriendly states?
Is it possible that the National Enquirer provides information that proves famous people are even worse than we are and this makes us feel deeply better?
Could it be that Facebook provides the ability to become someone entirely different from the selves we loathe, the selves from which we are desperate to escape every day?
Think about all the times people have said something to you and behaved in an entirely contrary manner.
Think about the lovers who have told you that it's you or no one and then married a banjo-playing, thrice-married supply teacher four months later.
Think about the bosses who have told you that you are a genius and fundamental to the company's growth and fired you the following week.
It's clear from this survey that people are about as honest and self-aware as, well, most CEOs. So when it comes to the brands that they truly, madly, deeply love, they are some of the last you'd expect, because these brands fulfill eternal, twisted human needs.
How can Apple and Google compete in satisfying such fundamental, craved desires? They can't.
Of course, it's also possible, as with every survey, that this one is utter nonsense.
Still, who cannot be titillated by the notion that, deep in the hearts of survey respondents in the US, Brazil and China, Google is a mere two points ahead of Playboy?