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The Marketers

Written By: - Date published: 7:01 pm, April 24th, 2011 - 30 comments
Categories: business, capitalism - Tags:

“The happiness-consumption myth is interestingly analysed in relation to neurological mechanisms. The myth is co-created by the marketers and us.”
Brian Walker, Hot Topic.

These couple of lines are very important to my mind. I got involved in marketing through my business and was a firm believer. I spent tens of thousands of dollars on marketing, advertising and training as most companies do; but in the end it felt like I was selling my soul and I quit the system. I still say to my friends: “If there are people like me trying to sell things to people like you then I would be very afraid!”

My point here is all this money and effort was generally put into trying to sell something to people that they either couldn’t afford or didn’t need. Now the Nact’s are the masters of this and these people have sold their souls long ago, so I would be a little more than afraid; I would be terrified.

They have the stats, more than likely they know what you have for breakfast and dinner, they know where you work, if you work and what you think more or less!

So if you still think that you live in a place where you are free to do whatever you want, forget it – the marketers have a way of selling you as well….

I personally would like to see the marketers regulated to the point where they can’t blink without permission. They are what we see and what we feel, what we hear and what we touch. They know how to tap into our fears and our successes.

– MrSmith


30 comments on “The Marketers”

  1. I personally would like to see the marketers regulated to the point where they can’t blink without permission.

    The left’s answer to everything… regulate it. And if someone finds a way to keep operating under the regulatory burden, ban it. I’ve spent most of the past 15 years marketing everything from unions to politicians to SMEs. I’ve done my best to portray all of them in the best possible light of course, but haven’t lied for any of them. Not all marketers have fangs and feast on the blood of virgins by the full moon… a pizza by candlelight is usually sufficient.

    So how would the possessors of the good ideas (i.e. the ones you support) get their message across, MrSmith? Or would your regulators be chosen based on their lefty credentials and thus some marketers would be more equal than others?

    How would the ordinary business person gain commissions from consumers for their plumbing, furniture making, panel beating, horse shoeing or grass mowing skills? Or, if they were a little bigger, orders from other businesses for their widget-fashioning abilities?

    What an Orwellian little world you must wish to inhabit.

    I’d prefer creating a society where people are allowed to think without permission, and thus quite capable of seeing the blandishments of the unscrupulous marketers for what they are.

    • Colonial Viper 1.1

      Or just do to marketing what has been done with cigarette packets.
      I agree that business needs to be able to sell knowledge of its products and services. It is true that there is no business if no one knows what you actually do. However, no more glossy sales pitch and positioning in isolation. Make sure the warts show as well.
      The only real regulation I would suggest is to make all TV advertising black and white to be run at a quieter volume than actual TV 😯
      That wouldn’t be too hard to implement, and might stop little Johnny from pressuring mum and dad for a Wii 2 that they can’t afford.

      • Luxated 1.1.1

        The only real regulation I would suggest is to make all TV advertising black and white to be run at a quieter volume than actual TV

        If only it were that simple!  There is already legislation in place that limits the ‘volume’ at the source (that is they can’t make something twice as loud irrespective of your TVs volume).

        However adverts get around this by using a quirk of your hearing.  By compressing the range of volumes in the advert you increase the perceived loudness without changing the measured volume in dB.  This is known as dynamic range compression, of course this reduces the quality and clarity of your audio (you lose definition due to the lack of contrast) but advertisers either a) don’t care as long as they are understood b) shout.

        Interestingly this same technique has been used for years in the music industry to master and remaster music as the increase in perceived loudness makes it sound ‘better’ for a given sound level, despite the lose in audio quality.

        You can listen to the effect if you search Youtube for ‘The Loudness War’.

        captcha: speaks…  Sometimes I wonder if The Standard’s captcha has precognition.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.2

      So how would the possessors of the good ideas (i.e. the ones you support) get their message across, MrSmith?

      Generally speaking as a consumer, I find a good internet search engine and website works well.

    • MrSmith 1.3

      Rex in your resent post you appeared to be arguing for government control of drugs, but now you appear to be saying let the (Pushers/Marketers) operate with impunity.

  2. JaJ 2

    Consumption is about social status.

    • M 2.1

      I would mostly agree with this given that people know where they can access certain items.
      Marketing is all about inspiring desire IMHO in a person as an individual as well as belonging to a certain group. As Coco Chanel said: fashion is made to become unfashionable.
      I was talking about this very thing the other day with a female friend and she was telling me about a group of her friends that thought nothing of offloading $200 on a haircut, nothing fancy, just a haircut. Then there were the $100+ moisturisers etc that are de rigueur, as if they can slow the hands of time. Really if people are that worried about ageing they should save their moisturiser money and get themselves a good surgeon. We both agreed that these were rip offs but were so skilfully marketed the buyers thought they were getting a bargain.
      For men a flash car is often viewed as a ticket to success with women and even though difficult to afford they take the hit financially to have sufficient status in the mating game, ditto for iphones etc.
      Part of my job is sales but to be pushy goes against the grain. If there is a cheaper way for parents to use our service I offer it and if a person can’t afford it at the time then we’ll see them when things are better for them. By giving people space and not making them feel boxed in or tricked pays dividends and word of mouth is the best advertising an enterprise can have.
      For those who are broke because of must-haves – there is a cost to showing off. 

  3. DJ 3

    Thanks for the post Mr Smith. The problems you’re talking about are to do with people’s self-identity, something that’s very important to them. The marketing you and your mates use to do strike at people’s self-identity. That is why people can find it difficult to say no to something they can’t afford, because they think they’ll lose their identity.

    Let’s say there’s some product, let’s call it bluto’s wine. It sells for $30. You’re in charge of selling Bluto’s wine as just as a classy wine for a reasonable price. Not a bad marketing slogan. Now, you’ve set the scene. You are selling something classy that is also reasonable.

    There are people that want to be seen as classy and reasonable people. Some of them might see Bluto’s wine as a way to show this. By not buying Bluto’s wine, they may fear being seen as unclassy or unreasonable. Same with people who want to seem smart and with it by buying the latest techno gadget, no matter how unpractical it is. For instance why would I need a Iphone? I can already do heaps of things it can do and more with my laptop and I have a cheap cellphone.

    But don’t worry Mr Smith. You’re only earning a crust doing something that can be pretty fun. The props and images for the scene have been created over centuries by people’s stereotypes, the media and people themselves. It’s important we educate our current generation about being in charge of their own self-identity.

    Also right-wing politicians have been marketing for decades. Take the term pro-life, as if being pro-choice means you don’t care about people’s lives.

    • Vicky32 3.1

      Take the term pro-life, as if being pro-choice means you don’t care about people’s lives.

      Sorry, it pretty much does mean that! 😀

  4. Draco T Bastard 4

    They have the stats, more than likely they know what you have for breakfast and dinner, they know where you work, if you work and what you think more or less!

    Reminds me of a conversation I was having with a friend many years ago when he was studying marketing. He had asked me if I knew what the idea behind marketing was to which I replied:

    To find out what you want and then sell it to you.

    The corollary to that is, to be able to do that, they need to know you better than you know yourself. It was at that time that I started to really question why people were so afraid that the government had files on you as the private businesses had files on you that you didn’t even know about and probably couldn’t change or access. Yes, I’m aware of the privacy act but then there is the iPhone which keeps a log of everywhere you’ve been without telling you and which can be easily accessed.

    BTW, The article that MrSmith is referring to is here.

  5. DeeDub 5

    How about placing a limit on a company’s marketing to a set percentage of their turnover?  A lot of the big transnational corporations actually spend more on marketing and advertising than actually MAKING the products they sell.

    They don’t just want to find out what you want, they want to create the want in the first place.

    • Carol 5.1

      Yes.  The things is, post World War 2, the markets in the Western World were becoming saturated with consumer goods.  It was getting so everyone had the basic thiings: a car, a fridge, a washing machine, clothes etc. And companies could make them more cheaply than ever before.  But, in order to get people to keep buying, in a society that was producing more than materially was needed, they had to shift to selling identities, status, and to a focus on people’s emotional and psychological needs.   But this is done in such a way that people never find the goods & services fully satisfy these emotional needs, partly because the marketing depends on promoting a sense of dissatisfaction with the way we are.  We always need that new extra something to make us feel more acceptable and fulfilled.
      As production increased during the 20th century, so did the size of marketing departments, eventually giving rise to marketting companies.  Their job is to find ways to keep promoting goods and services that people probably wouldn’t buy if they didn’t associate them with other feelings – status etc.
      Intially, way back, advertising just told people what a product could do, now ads promote lifestyles & and play to the emotions, often paying little attention to what the product or service actually consists of.  Of course, there are some traditional ads that jut tell people what the product or service does.
      How does this relate to selling politicians & parties?  Well, I think neoliberal politicians very much think that politics should be run the same way as a business, so their aim is to use the tools of advertising and marketiing – they play to people’s emotions, sense of identity etc.  So do left wing parties to some extent.  But mostly they aim to try to provide more information about their policies & to explain why they are good – more like traditional ads.  However, I think the Right need to use the hard & sly sell more, because, if they explained their polIcies properly to people, without gloss, the majority wouldn’t go for them, because, basically, they are not democratic.
      I don’t know how we get away from the wrong direction taken by all this focus on selling lifestyles, status and appealing to psychological needs through products & services.  And people will pay for this, often way more than what it cost to produce an item.
      We actually have the means to create all the products the world’s population needs to live reasonable lives.  But some people want to game the system, to get rich, be more powerful, and have high status.  Some of us aren’t bothered.  I also have no need of, or desire for, an IPad or an Iphone, or for high status.  Somehow that all misses me.

  6. terryg 6

    easy. legislaively require all ads to be factual. Voila a sizeable chunk of the manipulative shite goes away. It still wont stop some bloke shouting at us about rugs – but hey, at least hes not, or pulling psychological swifties to manipulate us

    • rosy 6.1

      legislaively require all ads to be factual

      And monitored as much for what ‘facts’ they put in – like lollies, irrelevantly, being advertised as ‘fat-free’.

      • terryg 6.1.1

        ayup. probably easiest with requiring approval first. And I’ll try and pretend I spelled “legislatively” with a Cockney accent

  7. Draco T Bastard 7

    This is an interesting story that’s kinda on topic. It’s about a Republican who changed his mind about Anthropogenic Climate Change by reading the facts.

    “I was defeated by facts,” writes the Republican Massachusetts based blogger D. R. Tucker at the FrumForum website. The freelance writer and radio host has explained why, as a member of the “urban right”, he has changed his mind about climate change.

    He was, like most of those on the right, of the belief that the science was unsettled “that any movement associated with Al Gore and Van Jones couldn’t possibly be trusted, that environmentalists were simply left-wing, anti-capitalist kooks” but then he went and actually read the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report. His conclusion at the end of the report was “I could not find anything to justify my skepticism.
    We do have to find away of getting those facts across to people in a way that they understand but it still has to be the facts and not hysteria or scorn.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      Not much point in trying to convert or save the Right, just push through the agenda we want – exactly like the Right does when it gets power.

  8. ropata 8

    I don’t mind advertising per se it has a useful role in the economy. But I do object to deception, especially ads that masquerade as news (used to be common the the Listener), or political campaigns in the entertainment section (?!) of the paper (Rachel Glucina’s latest attack on Len Brown in the HoS -not online), or misleading slants on scientific analysis. Rather than fine the companies that do this why not ban their ads for a year.

    • Deadly_NZ 8.1

      I hate advertising it’s insidious,  And the Internet is riddled with ad’s they pop up and bug you,  and the methods you have to go through, just to keep them away.  But if you regulate 1 thing they find something else, it’s just the nature of the beast and you are up against some of the biggest corporations on earth,  And something like Google or the murdochs  that could pay the NZ defecit and not worry about it.  So really what’s the use of trying to regulate these behemoths, when they are hand in glove with the government of the day. And the NACTS are cosying up to Telecom as well, just think of the adds you could put out if you own a chunk of the action.
      Me ??  I’ll just continue to hide behind a fire wall , a virus killer, ad blocker, anti tracker, malicious software detector and the other myriad of addon’s i have to use, and that use resources and generally slow things down, if i want my computer safe.  And yes i know you can see my ip address if you wanted to lprent.  And it probably will get alot worse before it gets better.  but for now at least i see what i want to see.

  9. wtl 9

    Does anyone find it ironic that ‘rationality’ plays a large role in current economic thinking, i.e. people are often modelled as rational entities acting in a way to produce the maximum benefit to themselves, but at the same time most economic entities (businesses) spend huge amounts of money on marketing and advertising, which encourages people to make irrational choices, as pointed out in the comments above?

    • Colonial Viper 9.1

      The neo-liberal economic theory relies upon the very narrow idea of “rational economic agents” as one of it’s key foundations.
      A foundation which has for many years been shown to be completely unreliable (hence the rapid rise of ‘behavioural economics’).
      Basically the idea that we are a species of “homo economicus” is a load of crap.

      • wtl 9.1.1

        Oh I agree. Anyone who thinks people are ‘rational’ is obviously in denial… it is obvious to anyone with a pair of eyes that we are not.
        I just thought that the two ideas (rational economics and marketing) are so radically opposed to each other that I can’t see how they could ever co-exist at all. But the I guess the neolibs just put it down to marketing as ‘providing more information to people’ or some such to justify their theories.

        • terryg

          Humans are far from rational – we RATIONALISE, then fail to differentiate between cause and effect. Its a bit like that illusion of free will we think we have. Our consciousness appears to be a high level routine sitting atop an awful lot of autonomous routines – its an emergent property, not the dominant force in our brains.
          captcha: universitys ?! I LOVE IT.

    • Draco T Bastard 9.2

      Irrationality of the free-market
      Not ironic, a have.

  10. “Couldnt afford and didnt need”. That’s taking a middle income view of advertising. For most people ‘couldnt afford’ is generally true, but ‘didnt need’ not true at all. The subprime market in housing meant workers went into debt as housing prices were artificially inflated many times over their real value, but workers still needed housing. Living in car parks is not housing.
    So advertising is not the problem, rather its the social relations of capital which over time sees the share of labour reduce relative to the share of capital. As capital accumulates it needs desperately to increase production and consumption to realise a profit on its increasing value. So while it tries to get us to go into debt to consume, most workers in the world today get into debt even without meeting their basic needs of food, health, housing, education etc. That is capital over-produces what we need yet we still under-consume what we need. That’s why capitalism is fucked and people are rising up.
    The latest round of debt burden put on workers has been the public bailouts of private enterprises which go bust which then leads to more pressure to cut back on the public services. The most sophisticated advertising campaign we have seen for years is designed to make the working class ‘share the pain’ and take the food from their children for years to come, to pay the profits and bonuses of the parasitic capitalists.

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      The most sophisticated advertising campaign we have seen for years is designed to make the working class ‘share the pain’ and take the food from their children for years to come, to pay the profits and bonuses of the parasitic capitalists.

      Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  11. PeteG 11

    Just say there was a remarkable people’s revolution, and as a result people stopped responding to the marketing of products they don’t need or are more than they need. Excess electronics, car upgrades, “beauty” and “anti-aging” products, fast foods that are more advertising, cardboard and plastic than food, cleaning and anti-bacterial products that only change the mix of bacteria growing, phones and phone plans, “must see” movies, etc etc.
    What if people suddenly became sensible rather than driven by moron marketing? What would that do to the economy? Would it collapse?
    Are we trapped by our own stupidity?

    • M 11.1

      Are we trapped by our own stupidity?

      In a lot of cases not deliberate stupidity but a lack of sense and the power that advertising that holds sway these days. Ads can be very seductive particularly for children and advertisers then rely on the nag factor of children with their parents.
      If people stopped and really thought about how a certain product was sourced and marketed they may give more thought before purchasing. Jewellery for instance usually involves some poor beggar, often non-white in a mine somewhere risking their life so someone can have a glittering trinket. I was profoundly influenced when some time ago I read this and will not purchase any more jewellery – two necklaces will do me just fine.
      Quite often it’s not until people are in financial straits that they realise much of the stuff regarded as essential is really designed to part them from their money. If a person can have this experience early in life then it makes them much more cautious and conscious of the insidiousness of the marketing machine. 

    • Draco T Bastard 11.2

      What would that do to the economy?

      Save it. The economy is the environment and using less of it will put on on track to being sustainable.

  12. PeteG 12

    Ads can be very seductive particularly for children and advertisers then rely on the nag factor of children with their parents.

    Parents can say no if they choose, and don’t have to tolerate nagging. I realise some advertising is very devious, like the one that used to depict the parents “needing” to take the kids out for breakfast because the parents had gone out the night before. My reaction to that is that it’s the last thing I would get sucked into doing, but I’m not the typical target demographic.
    Parents get sucked in by the advertising as much as the kids. How many parents think that their kids must be in permanent cellphone contact for safety and “just in case” they need to get in touch? When I was a kid we used to disappear for hours out of contact, roaming the countryside, down to the river etc and the only thing that urged us to get in touch was our eventual hunger. We managed to survive.

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    3 weeks ago
  • Doctors strike symptom of health cuts
    The notice of strike action issued by the junior doctors today is the result of years of National’s cuts to the health system, says Labour’s Associate Health spokesperson Dr David Clark. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government starves RNZ into selling Auckland asset
    Just weeks after TVNZ opened its refurbished Auckland head office costing more than $60 million, RNZ (Radio New Zealand) has been forced to put its Auckland office on the market to keep itself afloat, says Labour’s Broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Government must be more than a bystander on the economy
    Despite what he might think John Key is not a political commentator, but actually a leader in a Government who needs to take responsibility for the conditions that mean a rise in interest rates, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson.  “John ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Māori Party all hui no-doey on housing
    The Māori Party should stop tinkering and start fixing tragic Māori housing statistics in the face of a national housing crisis, says Labour’s Māori Development spokesman Kelvin Davis. ...
    3 weeks ago
  • Labour committed to eliminating child poverty
    Labour accepts the challenge from Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft to cut child poverty and calls on the Prime Minister to do the same, says Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little. ...
    3 weeks ago