Wake Up And Smell Your Marketing


Everyone who works in marketing and any business touching it must read this article. On CBSNews.com, Dick Meyer wrote an editorial hammering home points we've touched on here before such as the portrayal of men as idiots in advertising, the hyper-political correctness foisted upon the industry and society at large and the acceptance, what scholar Charles Murray relates to "ecumenical niceness," of kids dressing and behaving like thugs fueled by marketers and the entertainment industry elevating "thug culture" to culture at large. If that's a lot to digest, just read the article and think long and hard about what cultural imagery you mirror in your marketing. Don't cop out using the tired, "Oh we're just identifying with culture," and turn a blind eye to what you are perpetuating.

Everyone wants to be cool including marketers so that last thing a marketer wants to do is to come off and being preachy. Rather, they'd like to be seen as one of the dudes, the brothers, the dawgs, the kid you wished you could have hung out with in high school. Think, though, for a minute about that kid you wanted to hang out in with high school. Nine times out of ten, he or she is living the sort of life you are glad has nothing to do with your own. In many ways. marketers are behaving like clique-ish high schoolers, doing any thing they can to "fit in," to emulate what, apparently, is supposed to be cool.

It's all very relative to the notion of ecumenical niceness which is the act of teaching politeness, social tolerance, understanding of racial issues then ignoring those teachings by allowing the very behavior ecumenical niceness aims to eradicate because one has to be a "grown up" to actually pay more than lip service to this notion. That's not so easy for an industry obsessed with youth and disinterested in anyone over 40. Yea, yea, the purpose of marketing and advertising isn't to preach but to sell products and relating to the lowest common denominator of current culture and the last vestige of acceptable humor is, for now, the acceptable route to do achieve the goal.

Perhaps, and we've said this before, it's all payback for all those years we made women stand in front of refrigerators like Stepford Wives. Perhaps it's, as Martin Salzman told the Washington Post, that "the only people they (advertisers) are still allowed to offend these days are straight white men with a full head of hair." Our hands are tied quite a bit these days when it comes to what we can and can't say in our marketing without offending some cause group but that doesn't mean we have to emulate the lowest common denominator all the time.

Just as marketers need to wake up and smell the sex, they also need to wake up and smell their marketing. Now, back to our regularly scheduled collection of idiotically and sexually-laced advertising.

by Steve Hall    Mar- 3-06   Click to Comment   
Topic: Opinion, Trends and Culture   

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Wake up and smell YOUR marketing.


Posted by: Stevie on March 3, 2006 3:37 PM

Thanks for the overly generous post.

If I read Stevie's comment correctly, he's saying CBS' marketing and the ads we carry is bad as anything I write about -- ergo I'm a hyprocrite. Well sure. There's no difference between giant media companies on this (except CBS encourages my column). Does that mean I shouldn't have done the column unless I quit? Or that it is less true or interesting.

Anyway, thanks.

Posted by: Dick Meyer on March 3, 2006 4:11 PM


Heh. Stevie was actually referring to a typo I had in the headline of the article. I had invorrectly written "you're" instead of your. He was correcting me rather than making comment on CBS. But your point does bring up an interesting conundrum.

Steve (Adrants publisher, not Stevie the commenter)

Posted by: Steve Hall on March 3, 2006 4:47 PM

Can you smell your sell?

Posted by: Todd on March 3, 2006 7:34 PM

I think part of the problem is that advertisers are speaking to things people can relate to. How many oafish boys have you seen at your last trip to the cineplex? I walk through my local mall and all I see is thug culture.

Part of the Achillean flaw of advertising is that we'll sometimes pander to get people to purchase. And in our marketing-driven culture, getting leads and purchases is our number one goal, right? Sadly, moreso than portraying a vision of what society could be.

This is a huge topic and it'd be great to get advertisers and marketers to think/talk about it more. Great catch, Steve.

Posted by: Weave on March 3, 2006 7:43 PM

'Your' not 'you're'. Jeepers Adrants - sort out you're spelling. ( sic)

Posted by: Nick B on March 6, 2006 7:30 AM

Nick...did you even read the above comment? That error was fixed already. If you've spotted another one, we'd love to hear about it.

Posted by: Steve Hall on March 6, 2006 10:27 AM