connected to your surroundings

How connected are you to your surroundings?
Richard sent me a link to an interview with some “mad men” (advertising folk) pontificating on the relevance of marketing, products, and advertising channels to the internet. Much of what I gleaned from reading this is that they are not as “in touch” as they think they are. Have a look and decide for yourself before reading what I have to say below.

highlights and low-lights

  1. The EA Sports / Tiger Woods story is a communications department shining at its brightest. That was awesome.
  2. Internet Overalls – I liked the creativity here but I think they’re missing the point. The point would not to be to solely cover internet relevance, it would be to make the product relevant to all marketing channels that it could be profitable in. If you concentrate on something that would only make sense to those on the internet, you’re ignoring a good chunk of the market. You are missing out (again.) The goal of marketing on the internet should be additional coverage, not mutually exclusive coverage.
  3. Katie Couric – They criticize her for not being interactive enough. But first, 2 out of the three interviewees admit to not watching the news, and the third suggests something that’s already being done. They suggest bringing her onto the web, or coordinating some sort of Katie-on-demand – but in reverse, where she demands your attention when she talks about a certain keyword. Sounds annoying. I see these guys are not aware that Katie Couric was doing a web-show on the night of the election, which had plenty of interaction on it too. Katie had some small-time guests participating like Hilary Clinton, but who am I to judge? Katie also maintains Couric & Co, a blog on the CBS site where she leads the charge on interactivity. I think these marketing gurus have pigeonholed her to a fault.
  4. It appears that some marketing ideals suggest that you have to rush to one channel or another to hit the markets you want. The brands that I see with the most credibility in the music industry have their product and their marketing in all relevant advertising channels and media forms. This does not mean going ape[bleep] and putting your CD in every Wal-Mart and Best Buy, it means that you find the channels that mean ubiquity for your genre and you hit those so that any time that a person is in their shop of choice, your product comes up in their searches. With searching online and in-store inventory systems advancing further all the time, availability is the new advertising. If you aren’t in inventory, you don’t exist. If you disagree with this, may I present to you:
  5. I think TV stations are beginning to make some really great web-content, some of the best web-content lately. They may be adapting faster than a lot of people give them credit for.

The point I’d like to make here is this: If you don’t see it with your own eyes, that doesn’t mean somebody is not out there doing it.
I’m curious what everyone elses’ take on this is. I am into marketing, I run and work in business on the web and off the web so I may be a bit biased in terms of how the nascent internet/real-world marketing practice will turn out. Did you get the impression that perhaps the interviewees, though very accomplished, may have been a bit under-prepared for this, or do you think they were spot-on?

Join the Conversation


  1. I think the interviewees were naive and closed-minded.
    FYI, you’re opening a Pandora’s Box by indirectly asking me to participate in this dialogue… I attended a marketing conference recently, and the first day was spent on digital “integration” with all sorts of “buzz words” and hype. Long story short, I returned and gave a 45 minute report to my team on how a) traditional media such as magazines are being marginalized in a new digital environment, because b) ad agencies such as the ones represented by these folks operate in a cut-throat and utterly terrifying environment of client poaching and early burnout, so c) magazines and other ‘traditional’ media needs to work towards making itself relevant again.
    I can email you my notes if you like. I’d rather not monopolize your comments page. 🙂
    But for the sake of this conversation, I think these guys all come from an angle where they’re trying to be hip and cool and innovative and interesting. Not just to each other but to their clients and their bosses. They put themselves into a pretty blistering pace of constantly needing to have thought up the next great idea for advertising, and they get themselves so far down a road, that they can’t recall where they came from nor what they passed along the way.
    But online advertising is exciting – hey it’s a new media opportunity (that’s pretty revolutionary). It’s not that these guys are completely out to lunch, just that IMO their heads are in the wrong places – they’re more into staying ahead of the curve than providing ROI for example.
    Why are we seeing a shift to online advertising? Fundamentally, because agencies and their clients are trying to narrow in on who buys their products and speak to them precisely, and the internet provides opportunities for inexpensive and highly targeted advertising. It’s also new, and fresh, and it’s what agencies are pushing on their clients. But it’s a low-cost, high ROI extremely targeted marketing avenue that has never existed before.
    anyway… enough for now.

  2. i have a couple of different reactions to this:
    1. the environment debate: i am often distrustful of marketing people for the very huge reason that they often ignore or abuse the ethical position they are in, and through their work, exacerbate consumerism, and by hoodwinking the market with “cool” or even “clever” advertising… they miss the point, and pollute the earth. they are increasing demand, thus increasing supply, and the cycle spins out of control.
    here’s a bigger question that needs to be asked. is this product even a responsible one?
    two examples: take a look at the guy talking about bleach. bleach is a poisonous product that people buy to get a certain job done, it’s not something about which any of us think “hmm, i don’t think i have enough bleach in my house. i’d better stock up.” bleach is increasingly more known as an environmentally unfriendly product, and is not a product in need boosting WHATSOEVER. in fact, we need marketing towards safer, alternative cleaning products, so that people will buy bleach only when they need it. better marketing for bleach is just silly. can’t you see that if successfull, you will ultimately just pollute the earth more?
    also, why are we talking about making overalls with barcodes on them, when the REAL relevant question is, can’t you change your game, ie. “functional farmer clothing” to clothes that can be recycled? isn’t that still hitting the “farmer” market, regardless of whether or not farming is disappearing?
    it seems these guys are croaking old dust heads even CONSIDERING how marketing was done in the TV age. look at how that era fucked up our consumption habits! why are we even considering repeating the same mistake with the internet? it’s time to respond to our time with a totally different set of rules.

  3. 2. persona as brand. i’m not even remotely interested in what these guys are saying on this topic. maybe it would be better not to say too much (and betray my holier-than-thou attitude here) other than, i don’t mind alter-egos, so long as you do it tongue-in-cheek (ali g and borat are fantastic examples), and people like jon stewart and keith colbert (even if they have teams working for them, editing their info, they still have a transparent, honest motive for doing what they do). but when you don’t have something to say, why are you still talking? you are saying it from the mouth of the person you think you are, instead of just saying it like it is.

  4. 3. the last sentence is the only thing that really meant anything to me.
    as someone in graphic design, i contend with marketing people constantly, and while they are a necessary evil, there just are not enough people who understand connecting with consumers.
    in china, i am experiencing FAR more irresponsible marketing and advertising, particularly in the practice of rushing poor-quality products out into the market before even considering the bigger vision (whether or not there even was one to begin with) just to “save face” with investors, wealthy parents (in the case of design work in education curriculum) and young people (in the case of growing fast-food and clothing trends).
    this is outright abuse, and it’s disgusting. there is no relationship between a consumer and the brand, other than for pure consumption. but it brings a steep price along with it – disease, destruction, injury, and an ultimate result of a vicious cycle of increasingly more shoddy work down the road to patch up the mistakes made at the beginning.
    why are marketing people failing to ask themselves the question, “is this responsible?”
    my guess is because it’s easier to be evil than to be good.

  5. the underlying issues, for me, are the greedy motivations behind the profit we are seeking, and the pride we are feeding by increasing our brand’s (and in some way, our intellect’s) exposure to the planet.
    put these two evils into the conversation, and THEN start talking.

  6. Hi folks,
    I have no problem with lengthy replies. If this keeps up I’ll be redesigning the comments area to give you folks more room for your thoughts!
    Craig: Lots to consider there. I think that you’re bang on regarding the shift.
    Joel: Your remark about ethics in advertising is not an uncommon one. There are regulatory bodies here in Canada for accountable advertising, not sure what the situation is elsewhere in the world. Having a big voice comes with a big responsibility, no doubt about it. Individuals, more importantly, should be looking at everything through a critical lens – it’s a matter of self respect. It is also a matter of learning to ask the right questions though, and not everyone is interested in learning..

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