The Proliferation of Meaningless and Mindless Marketing, A Love Story, Part 1

t_newhard_kHave you ever taken a “staycation?” It is when you take a vacation, but then just stay home. The worst part of a staycation is daytime television and the worst part about daytime television is the commercials. To me, these advertisements represent a part of what I call a de-evolution in marketing. A de-evolution and proliferation towards mindless and meaningless marketing.

Let me caveat that all not all advertising is mindless or meaningless. Let me caveat again that these principles are not my ideas, but the centerpieces of the marketing masterpiece, Meaningful Marketing by Doug Hall and Jeffery Stamp.

What is mindless marketing?

Mindless marketing uses gimmicks, tricks, novelty, and deception to cast a spell on the prospective costumer in order to get that prospect to buy based on a false sense of need, emotion, or pressure. Mindless marketing are tactics used by producers that do not have faith in the benefit of their own product. This type of marketing has short-term gains but long-term depreciation.

What is meaningless marketing?

Meaningless marketing is marketing that is not only mindless, but ineffective. Meaningless marketing attempts to employ gimmicks, tricks, novelty, and deception but does so unsuccessfully.

What is meaningful marketing?

The antithesis of these forms of marketing in meaningful marketing. Producers with faith in their product’s benefit should use this form of marketing. This type of marketing  takes more effort and time, but as the saying goes and as the laws of physics command, “you can’t get something for nothing.”  Meaningful marketing is a long-term effort that yields gains for a long time.

Why do marketers employ meaningless or mindless marketing tactics?

Real marketers don’t. David Ogilvy said in Ogilvy on Advertising:

“There have always been noisy lunatics on the the fringes of the advertising business. Their stock-in-trade includes ethnic humor, eccentric art direction, contempt of research, and self-proclaimed genius. They are seldom found out, because they gravitate to the kind of clients who, bamboozled by [the lunatic fringe’s] rhetoric, do not hold them responsible for sales results. Their campaigns find favor at cocktail parties… I comfort myself with the reflection that I have sold more merchandise than all of them put together.”

The current state of advertising leads me to think that Mr. Ogilvy’s “lunatic fringe” has become mainstream. By the way, follow this link if you don’t know who David Ogilvy is.

So why do wannabe marketers employ said tactics? It is because they cannot see the long-term benefits a data driven marketing strategy, they need and/or want to realize short-term gains, they have no faith in what they are marketing, and they have not been schooled as to what real marketing consists of.

Let’s trace the pathology of this mindless and meaningless marketing disease back a little further.

At the turn of the last century consumers were held hostage by the producers of things. There was no mass media, there was no Safe Food and Drug Act, and there were not that many producers of things. With the industrial revolution in America and the inventions of radio and TV this all began to change.

By the middle of last century thousands of producers fought for the attention of consumers that now had a say in what they bought. However, at this time there were few TV channels and radio stations. This benefited advertisers because they could reach large segments of people via commercials by using a few channels and stations. As we progress from this point consumers are given more and more choices from domestic and now foreign producers of things. TV channels and radio stations continued to proliferate as well.

By the end of last century the globalization of trade and the internet have increased choice and advertising mediums to all time highs. The advertising and marketing “noise” that the average person encounters is staggering. How do marketers get their message across?