Saturday, July 23, 2011

How Marketing Works.

I was having a chat with friend and fellow blogger, Rutherford, regarding a bit of marketing that assaulted in him a recent hotel stay. Being in marketing, you begin to see the process and layers behind the marketing - and appreciate good, clean, marketing when it's done right. Before I was part of this world, it all seemed straightforward and basic. But, I thought I'd share with you just one view into what might happen behind the scenes.

Rutherford, as you see in this blog post, saw a carpet with a tag line "we love having you here. TM". He was irked by the trademarking of a warm and charming sentiment - which, on first blush, felt awful sweet of the hotel chain.  Naturally, I agree. Nothing sucks the wind out of a hallmark card more than a big copyright symbol. But, in our offline debate, I gave him my theory on how it happened:

Let's take a moment to see how this fart gets caught...

Someone spends 2 hours coming up with tag lines, of which 80% are patently wrong, misspelled or tripe.

10 people spend 4 hours on multiple calls discussing the final options. They debate the capitalization and bolding and whether it can be used in conjunction with a complete sentence.. i.e. "We love having you here - and do come again soon!"  And whether to include it in the boilerplate of the hotel PR. And the greater meaning of the word "having" vs. "hosting".

They finally nail it down - and everyone is sufficiently disheartened by the tragedy of the compromise, since someone deeply wanted "Yay You!" and is still not sure how s/he got gypped of a carpet with his tag line.

Some senior executive is told about it - and invariably makes a meaningless tweak (I hate the leading capital letter!) and then declares it brilliance.

SO brilliant, he says, "We should trademark this thing. What the hell!" The fart has been released.

Now, some sycophantic corporate stooge catches that fart. He writes it down, decides that Big_Senior_Exec mandated it - and regardless of all the sane minds anywhere else in the organization, this stooge WILL GET THIS DONE.

I am willing to bet that Big_Senior_Exec can't even remember that he muttered that comment. And might even hate the idea on further reflection. but meanwhile about 3000 carpets have been produced by a sweatshop in china.

The end.

So, that's how you get bad marketing. But, that's also how you get ALL marketing. It is very rare that you are not watching the result of committee-generated creativity. I recently saw a car commercial with the words "emotional connection" in it - it stuck out like a sore thumb, and I could have sworn it was a Caught Fart.

The counter example is the delightfully clean Dos Equis series
. They use every word well. I prefer Dos Equis. Someone stuck to their creative guns on that one. Bravo. Since I'm willing to bet there were 100 debates on whether to say "prefer" or "drink" or "choose"...

When you look around you, every single package, advertisement, commercial, brand name, color choice -- it's all marketing. If you squint a little, you can see the machine behind that tag line...


PD said...

It's so true. It's hours and hours of deliberating about almost nothing, followed by a dash of uninformed yet required executive input. But then again, isn't that the reality for most things that are developed by committee?

Lilac - Like The Flower said...

Well, I think perhaps this is universally true - but I feel like the whole thing sticks out like a sore thumb in creative output...