Monday, July 28, 2008

Scariest scenarios in marketing

So what if tomorrow the tried and true marketing techniques no longer applied…what if today’s harbingers of consumer marketing disaster materialized tomorrow in Zarathustrian proportions (shit hits the fan)?

A lot of these what-if scenarios are actually here, in practice among us, being tested on us, becoming marginally more effective as we go about our mundane lives.


So as the PSA bunnies tell me, I need to keep myself aware of what’s going on so that I can Stay Alert, Stay Safe.

Here are the ten scariest scenarios in marketing:

10. Workplace advertising

Imagine, your Outlook calendar reminder pops up and announces the status update with your boss in 15 minutes. It also announces that “this meeting is sponsored by Fanta. Don’t you want a Fanta Fanta…” It’s a very real possibility that marketing will break through one of the final bastions of consumer invisibility, the office. Marketing in the office will not be subtle like before and you’ll be forced to confront brand logos, taglines, and jingles in company emails, in the lunchroom, and at corporate events.
Freakiness factor: 7
Likelihood to happen: 1
Total: 8

9. Continuing to pay more for green products

Imagine, sustainable consumer practices never really grip a majority of household buyers and prices for items like green toilet paper, organic cereal, and biodegradable dishwashing detergent remain much higher than for conventional, less eco-friendly products. The danger of this is that without a price incentive to buy green, consumers will never make environmentally sustainable buying decisions.
Freakiness factor: 6
Likelihood to happen: 3
Total: 9

8. A brand purchases your street and city block

My address? It’s 60 Starbucks Street East, Suite 500.’

If Dubai is selling naming rights to its Metro stations, what’s preventing cash-strapped cities like Toronto from letting companies name streets and subdivisions in new urban developments?
Freakiness factor: 9
Likelihood to happen: 3
Total: 12

7. Guerrilla marketers become brand terrorists

The year: 2020. The place: Toronto’s gritty downtown core.

Guerrilla marketers, cast aside as communications channel rejects have become an Orc-like subspecies, ascending from the sewers to intimidate and scare unsuspecting consumers with messages designed to associate fear with a certain brand. Companies employ these nefarious techniques as smear-campaigns against their competitors and to maintain their competitive advantage by attacking another brand through psychological warfare.
Freakiness factor: 9
Likelihood to happen: 4
Total: 13

6. Google sells or loses your data – for real!

Imagine all those Google searches you do for disgusting key terms. Imagine all those emails you wrote. Imagine all those addresses you looked up. All gone, or worse, sold to some third party. Google apparently does a very good job of maintaining data security and their mantra ‘don’t be evil’ is something quite tangible in the organization. But just think how much trust we’ve put into Google with our personal details over the years…
Freakiness factor: 10
Likelihood to happen: 4
Total: 14
5. Tiered payment model for online content

Rogers and Bell Sympatico have decimated the other players in the broadband internet access market and it’s a literal oligopoly. They now implement a tiered payment model in which consumers must pay more to engage in perceived ‘high-value’ online activities such as streaming, music downloading, or....gasp, blogging! Content can be payment-based too as the ISPs are able to actually see what sites you visit.
Freakiness factor: 6
Likelihood to happen: 9
Total: 15

4. The death of the newspaper and television

The last page is turned, the last word is read. The last commercial is watched, the last remote control button is pressed.

Televisions are finally turned off and newspaper presses no longer roll. This seems like an inevitable possibility considering the immense growth and democracy of online content creation and distribution. But what about editorial, journalistic, and professional standards? Is the demise of printed and televised media the death knell for these things too?
Freakiness factor: 7
Likelihood to happen: 9
Total: 16

3. Ads on your iPod

So music players are getting considerably less expensive because of smaller and faster processors and greater memory capacity. But suddenly you find that the reason you only paid $50 for your new 200GB iPod is because before you can watch the Sopranos episode you transferred over, you are forced to watch a sponsored ad from HBO. Before you listen to Hilary Duff's 'Wake up', you are forced to listen to a 10 second promo for downloadable ringtunes from Rogers Wireless.
Freakiness factor: 10
Likelihood to happen: 7
Total: 17

2. Selling commercial time in your voicemail

The mobile phone companies have finally figured out how to give you free and unlimited phone service. All you do is buy the phone you want and you’re set. Unfortunately, it means that your phone becomes a vibrating advertising tool from Hell. You’re subjected to radio commercials while you wait for someone to answer the line and you’re stuck listening to ad spots while calling your voicemail.
Freakiness factor: 9
Likelihood to happen: 9
Total: 18

1. Cell phones that passively track your whereabouts and proximity to RFIDs

This one is actually well on its way to full scale market rollout in some places in Europe and certainly in Japan. Your cellphone becomes a transponder and broadcasts a signal to the network letting service providers and marketers know where you are and what billboards you’re close to. As you walk by a digital panel on the street, proximity sensors activate and display an ad that is deemed to be relevant to you. You’re watched and marketed to wherever you go.
Freakiness factor: 10
Likelihood to happen: 9
Total: 19

So these are a few of my favourite fears. Some of them I actually think consumers might warm to (e.g.cellphone RFID), if marketers can figure out how to implement them unintrusively. Otherwise, be on your toes!

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