Recently I was asked to give a speech at a marketing event and given the subject matter of Marketing, and how it can make the world a better place. And it got me thinking. What would it take for Marketing to make the world a better place.
Theirs a lot of things we could pick apart about marketing and its ills on society. And it’s important to note the line between advertising, messaging, campaigning, and politics are all blurring into one. We’re literally bombarded by political campaigns that tell us what is right and wrong, what is left and what is right, social platforms filled with toxic opinions which many of us have tuned-out/fire walled ourselves off from, social applications that select what is right and censor what they don’t agree with, and politicians who won’t shut up about what they think is right and wrong from all political view points. In frank to sum it up, it is easy to be overwhelmed by how marketing has morphed into technology and how it runs our every day lives. And as marketers, we know this, we are on the front line, and we see the faults.
And if you are a marketer this is not news to you, but for the rest you may ask what is going on? It’s simple, people and brands are making money. It’s that simple. Brands are piggybacking on morality for a quick dollar and not caring a damn about the divisionism, resentment, and lack of dialogue that comes from the result. And if we know brands will do this, even entire platforms, then what if anything can we or should we do about it?
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As marketers, we could accept this as status quo and promote what individuals believe regardless of consequences, or we could go against what we disagree with and possibly lose a client. Or we can choose to work only for brands that are in line with our views, but then we’d be right back where we started dividing ourselves. Not really a solution to the problem, but frankly its what a lot of people do. Our agency does not employ that strategy though and as a personal reason I’ll explain that I like to work with intelligent people that want to build the world into a better place, and I love the fact that our clients are not all X political view or Y political view. They challenge me as I learn from them. And if we’re only talking to mirrors of ourselves we’re never going to be able to make any change what so ever. So I encourage you as professionals to start by working with clients and brands that have different points of view. You’ll work within new audience spectrums and you may learn a thing or two in the process. But it’s still not enough.
So what is the full right answer to this marketing dilemma? The answer is to embrace dialogue, to encourage opposing views to have a discussion, and embrace poking fun at virtue signaling whereas possible. Brands that push for positivity, dialogue, and happiness rather than for moral guidance are ones that I find worth following. Heineken did this recently with the #openyourworld campaign in 2017. I applaud it, but its just one campaign and there are far more negative campaigns in front of us coming for this 2020 election, and even more brands willing to jump onto the next movement’s bandwagon. Almost all of us have lost a friend or two or possibly even a client from the 2016 election, haven’t we? As we get closer to 2020, I think it’s a pressing issue that as marketers, that divisionism is something we should attempt and care to resolve.
If we can embrace that there is not one right message but many, that there is not one right way of seeing something than we’ve attempted to make change. Its not up to us to tell that brand’s should not be in the business of virtue signaling, but we can advise against it and encourage strategies to poke fun at it. Have you noticed that people are rarely laughing together these days? George Carlin and other greats would even have a hard time with today’s material I suppose but seriously the reason people aren’t laughing together is because their’s no release on the pressure that’s built up between opposing views. If their’s enough of us in the future decision rooms, then maybe just maybe we can all be united to make this world a better, less controversial, less politicized, and less divisive place. And to encourage all of us to laugh at it all over a beer/cocktail/or non-alcoholic beverage.