Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Power of Marketing

The Last Psychiatrist has an interesting post about the images that marketers use to subtley convey cool:
It's easy to think that the ads are designed to draw in the demo shown in the ads, but that's not the way advertising works, and consequently that's not how America works. If you're watching it, it's for you. These ads play heavy during late and late late night talk shows: the target is boring middle aged white people. Blackberry isn't targeting gays and limber blondes, it's pretending they are already on board so you don't feel like a dork without a touch screen.... They know you better than you know yourself. Strike that: they know the lies you tell yourself better than you.
It reminded me of a conversation with AL years ago during our undergrad days. The question he posed, not dissimilar from Enrico Fermi's 'Where Are They', was this:

If marketers are so brilliant, why are all the people studying marketing at uni complete dumb@$$es?

Which brings me to the question of how much marketers know me better than I know myself. To help answer the question, let me quote from some marketing material that Ch√Ęteau Holmes recently received from United Airlines. It was in a separate fold-out book attached to some letter:
"The day miles got set free"
One sunny morning, a man woke up to find his miles anxiously tugging at his toes. "Let's go out and play", they seemed to say. Unable to resist, the man decided to see where his miles could take him. Turns out, they could take him almost anywhere.
This was as far as I got before throwing it across the room in rage.

Who exactly is this drivel appealing to? 5 year olds with a frequent flyer account? Senile old people with too many miles on their hands? I honestly have no idea. But someone signed off on spending thousands of dollars, printing up this junk and sending it across the country. In entirely unrelated news, United Airlines posted a Net Loss of  $651m in 2009, and a Net Loss of $5.348b in 2008.

Some marketers have deep understandings of human nature, and manage to cleverly work this in to the messages they convey. On the other hand, most of the clowns you knew in uni doing marketing? Yeah, they're still clowns.

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