Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Passing Opinion Off As Fact Since 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

Isn’t it weird that Marketing sounds like Marketing?

So as I was driving home from work I noticed multiple benches with Courtney Cox Arquette’s face on them. This seemed pretty harmless; she is famous and famous people’s faces always find themselves in the strangest of places. Eventually, I realized the ad was telling me that CCA was a real estate agent in some magical* land named “Cougar Town.” I am aware that “Cougar Town” is actually a soon to premier television show starring CCA. I am also aware that this bench is an example of viral marketing. Wikipedia tells me:

“The buzzwords viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales) through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can be word-of-mouth delivered or enhanced by the network effects of the Internet.”

So yes, this bench is an example of viral marketing - albeit very lazy and boring viral marketing. More than anything it is a direct theft of the much better viral marketing done by team behind District 9.

I have been told by a lot of people that District 9 is a very good movie. More importantly, those lot of people always mention how well done and even fun the marketing campaign was. It is very similar to the way LOST fans talk about the viral marketing master J.J. Abrams’s ability to create a mystique around his flagship show through his exceedingly clever promotion ideas. So this is what I thought about when I looked CCA’s generally attractive face, until…

BAM!**

An epiphany.

I must digress for a moment to set up a metaphor. In my days as a psych major at University I learned about a phenomenon called infantile vegetarianism. Basically, young children have a concrete understanding of words, in which every word represents a separate distinct thing. Eventually they stop being stupid babies and start thinking. Sometimes this thinking leads to this very adorable scenario in which a child will proclaim, “it’s weird that chicken (the word for the food) sounds like chicken (the word for the animal).” Once they learn the two are actually one-in-the-same they cry and swear off eating meat (stupid babies). Nevertheless, at this same age, kids still define their morality completely around what their parents say so they eventually end their hunger strike because their parents tell them to (stupid babies).

The point:

VIRAL MARKETING IS MARKETING.

So why do we care so much about it?

I came of age in the 90’s where I think I thought marketing was bad. Did I miss interpret a decent portion of early-mid career Pearl Jam records? I thought history looked really poorly on yuppies and loved hippies/punks/counter-culturists. Commercialism is bad, no?

I guess somewhere along the way this view has grayed. The most obvious example is the general blanket acceptance of band licensing their music to commercials***. More than acceptance, there is a celebration of sorts. Advertisements have become the place to hear new music (in GRE… video : Radio-star = commercials : Video-star), In a time where everyone has become experts of sorts, Apple has become the western hemisphere’s top tastemaker. Isn’t this bad?

I don’t know if it is bad but it definitely is telling. You may ask yourself; well…How did I get here?

My answer to this question is inspired by a theory created by essayist/scholar/famous person/professional sandwich eater**** Jesse Fox. In his essay entitled “I Haven’t Read 1984 in 9 Years. You?” he pontificates, quite eloquently I might add, that culturally we are approaching a future in which we are all famous. Because of the rise of reality television and blog-culture we are putting ourselves out to the world in ways never before available.

The fact is the difference between the famous and the non-famous has shrunk to a point of sheer non-existence. I know at least 4 people who have been on a reality show for at least one episode and I assume I know more who will eventually be on one. The result is we can easily picture ourselves being famous – we can picture ourselves as content and like any content that has come before, we will need to be marketed. So like an overzealous reality TV star we care how we are advertised or at least how we could potentially be.

Similarly, it is a lot easier to be in a band and to have that band reach thousand of people. Just the other morning I wrote two fairly weird songs, recorded them that afternoon, and then posted them on the Internet that evening. Hypothetically, if they were remarkable (which they weren’t), I could have had hundreds of fans by the end of the weekend. The result is that we are more likely to see these bands as real people because at anytime we could be that person in a similar band. Selling out is so 90’s because finally as fans we can put ourselves in the bands’ place and realize we would do the exact same thing.

Still, is this bad? Probably.

However, let’s assume it isn’t. The economy is really horrible currently so maybe it is a good thing that being famous exists as a career option. Other than the lack of quality health benefits (yet!?!?!?!?!?!?!) being in a band can become a responsible career option. Moreover, though being surrounded by a web of viral marketing can be exhausting, at least the marketers are thinking and trying to be clever. And isn’t that point? People thinking - people being in bands - people being clever. Hell, I have no reason to believe Cougar Town is going to be a bad show, it might be the best show since Joey (I loved Joey). Hmm, wait I guess I do have one reason, its called "Cougar Town" - I guess they aren't that many people being cleer.


* What is the opposite of magical? I wanted to use whatever word that would be in this situation but I still haven’t thought of it.

** A lot of people***** have told me my blog is not onomatopoeic enough.

*** Matt & Kim have a song placed in a Bacardi commercial. This is crazy!!!!!!!!!! Could they not get the rights to a Team Robespierre song? I have tried but I cannot imagine a scenario where Matt or Kim would drink Bacardi. Maybe if it were a commercial for smiles, PBR, biking, contact lenses it would sit better.

**** Today I got an e-mail request from a start-up lunch company asking for my “professional opinion” on their new line of sandwiches. Top 5 e-mails ever received.

*****A grand total of 0 people have told me this but I have to assume at least one person has thought it. So for that person….

WHAM!

BOOM!

OOF!

POW!

1 comment:

  1. I have finally walked on over to your side. Very clever writing, and this post about marketing? It's tops! Highly entertaining and I completely agree.

    ReplyDelete