Thursday, November 27, 2008

A case against waste

Last night I subscribed to AdBusters because I'm intrigued by the ways that marketing is being challenged to be a more sustainable business model. It's a magazine devoted to smart consumerism and debunking, demystifying, and deflating the hype, nonsense, and bullshit marketers (like me) spew. It's about framing contemporary consumerism within the panoply of the human condition and our interaction with mental and ecological realms.

Marketing is a constructed business. Historically it has manufactured needs and exploited emotion and the id of consumers to belong, to be recognized, and to be real. Advertising went mass, communicating in broad brushstrokes that if you didn't buy the product, you were somehow unfit as a consumer, a parent, a citizen. Marketers leveraged screamingly loud platforms for their voices to be heard, barging their messages and the brands they were shilling deep into intimate corners of the consumers life and making ad logos, slogans, and images so pervasive that a deafening white noise soon blanketed consumers from the moment they woke to the moment they went to sleep.

And it added costs to everything we buy.

Things cost money for two reasons: 1. to cover the fixed and variable costs of product/service production; and 2. to represent the intangible perceived value of the product to the consumer above and beyond what it actually cost to manufacture.

These secondary costs (the ones that we really don't need to pay for!) have become extravagant and fat. Mass marketing is not cheap. It's not effective. Brands that have intangible perceived value are not inexpensive to maintain. Think of them like an old sportscar that you drive for your daily commute all year round - maintenance and upkeep is costly!

So when marketers clamor for lucrative global ad budgets, they're gasping for a share of a market that is built on continuing a cycle of unnecessary spending, unnecessary advertising, and generally poor results.

Why isn't there a push for targetability?

AdBusters doesn't shun marketing. Rather, it argues that marketing needs to be smarter and better executed.

Enough sales pitches. More relationship building.

Enough lifestyle manufacturing. More development of real consumer identities.

Enough mass media. More targeted messages that actually mean something to me, to you.

So here's my pledge to change the world:

I'll be that marketing guy who doesn't spend time on crappy projects which don't mean anything to consumers.

I'll be that marketing guy who's ultimate promise is to the client's customers, and not the client.

I'm going to make the case for better, smarter, faster, and more relevant marketing.

I'm going to make the case for eliminating wasteful spending that contributes nothing to the overall relationship customers develop with the brand and the client's own equity.

And I'm not going to do work that I wouldn't personally want to see or feel is relevant to me.

It's a gift to work on the rare client account when both parties are eminently passionate about the project. Unfortunately these are rare. But I'm as much a consumer as I am a marketer. I love consumers, they are my peeps.

So my final promise is this, never ruin marketing for the consumer.

Ask me later how I plan to implement all these goals...

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