Monday, 21 March 2016

Branding Truth...

I was reading an interesting observation piece on LinkedIn entitled: The Art of Marketing to the Gullible and recognised the truths both as having worked in marketing and now, primarily working actively to whip away its veils and expose the dangers lurking beneath. The author, Simon Iredale asked things like:

"How did we end up drinking fizzy drinks laced with sugar, eating deep fried foods at every opportunity, believing that chocolate bar with nuts and raisins was good for us? How do we borrow more money than we can afford, buy products with global logos on for much more than they’re worth and give our kids graphically animated games that ‘shut them up’?"

"At the time of writing this we have leading UK politicians blatantly lying but being believed, we have very educated people buying products that are actively contributing to global warming, we have one of the most dangerous men in the world being followed and voted for by legions of adoring fans (and I’m not talking about North Korea). We are individuals so surely we can’t make a difference? If I stop buying that sugary drink will that shut the company down? If I stop buying that shampoo will the tree felling stop?"

I was speaking with a former UK Diplomat about how after public meetings about the process of fracking, the following would happen and what to do about the last bit: Most people would gather to form groups or question the speakers, looking for ways to be effective in preventing the industry from getting started. No-one ever said we were wrong (apart from the odd, exposed industry-insider) but there were always a few who would say:

"Sure it's a bad thing but hey, what can you do? The government has said we're getting it."

The Diplomat replied: "Oh yes, that's the 'Implied Inevitability''s relied on to convince people that they are powerless to stop something; a decision has been made." Not that a law had yet changed or that planning permission had been obtained, just that somebody important said it would happen.

White coats and sharp news-reader suits have a lot to answer for. Before online alternatives, we were informed of all the inevitables as well as shades of reality that media chose to shine a light on; all together at 6 and 10 o'clock. By the end of the news you had a picture of the world as told by the sensible man in the suit.

Then along came online and instead of wondering if it was just me feeling jaded and sceptical about all sorts of things from the news items to margarine, or if my opinion of the politician on Question Time was a rare one... I could go to Twitter and engage with countless others feeling the same, asking questions, searching reports, sharing results and informing ourselves.

In the past, I have written quite a few hotel websites and was delighted as they became virtually worthless with the advent of reviews by actual guests. Although to be taken with a pinch of salt and awareness that not everybody's definition of 'yuk' is the same... I have more chance of truth on than a glossy description by someone who hasn't even visited and is acting on information, from the person who most needs it to sound perfect,

Applying marketing skills to truth telling is a glorious plan and maybe that's what is happening particularly amongst the (unplanned) 'branding' of our 'Nana' activists against fracking in the UK and the Knitting Nanas Against Gas fighting coal seam  gasification in Australia? For us here in the UK, identifying as Nanas was simply an attempt to make clear WHY we became activists and to ensure anyone watching us on media, would not see us titled as something they maybe didn't relate to like: 'eco warriors' 'environmental campaigners' etc.

Our 'Nana' status was a job title and description in one - we are protecting our young.

There's no denying that the world is changing rapidly with the advent of new technology - for better and for worse.. my hope is that we seize the moments to infuse them with truth and humanity so that the cold hard sell, becomes obsolete.

I'll leave the last words with Simon as they sum it up well:

"We are amazing marketers; we perform magic tricks on the world, we seek out the gullible and take their hard earned money. It’s really dead simple. The good news however is that we have this ability in our hands to do this magic, to make people believe what we tell them, to make a difference to peoples perception of the brands we work on."

*Note the notes before taking too literally :)

ps... just discovered some having fun and effect with the old marketing ways by turning the tables on big fibbers.