Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Why Bother with Professionals?

If you're really asking that question,
you're likely wasting your brand's equity!

When I was in prep school, my friends and I had a "comedy" program on the school's TV system. It consisted, in large part, of recyclings of comedic "skits," routines, and other presentations we had encountered elsewhere, with the occasional (quite clever, as I recall) skewering of Mr. Faversham, the headmaster, or Mr. Tsoulakis, our beloved Physical Educator.

At the time, we considered that our program was as good as the commercial product being presented on the many broadcast and "cable" outlets then available, and that it was as worthy of wide exposure as any of them. Of course, we were wrong (apart from selected seasons of "SNL" and the entire run of the extremely un-funny and depressing - yet somehow critically acclaimed - "30 something").

I discovered that the professionals were better at their professions than we were: amateurs, pretenders, poseurs: audience members. Pace "You-Tube" and "Quarter-Life," that is still the case today; yet we find brand owners - marketing professionals - blathering after this fashion:
"We don't own the brand the way we used to; consumers own it. It's not about claims any more. Consumers don't want to be preached to. It's about a dialogue and discovery, giving people the chance to comment," says a director of communications for Ford of Canada who shall remain nameless.
Well, perhaps our brethren North of the Border have found a new reality ... or more likely they're practicing un-marketing through denial. Much as the "school" of literary analysis which says the author has no say in the meaning of his (or her!) work, this fellow is saying the brand has no right to decide just for what it will stand. One might as well give up and sell products in pure white packages with plain black typed labels and no logos. Then the consumer really would own the brand, eh? (That's a bit of Canadian humour!)

If the recent writers' strike (the results of which we are still suffering) taught us anything, it ought certainly to have driven home that little point - professionals are better at their professions than are amateurs. I'll admit it's not really a catchy phrase, but we here at Jay Standish, Inc. LLC are working on a condensed, power-packed version (which we will release under a Creative Commons® license) which (it is to be dearly hoped!) will become the marketing mantra for upcoming generations of marketers.

Perhaps this whole thing is simply a reflection of a vastly under- rested American populace - including marketers! It may be a form of sleep-marketing where not only is the marketer asleep at the wheel (and let's hope those Canadian folks aren't Ice Truck Drivers from that fabulously exciting program!), but they are working to help the consumer get more rest. This by sponsoring the actual broadcast of "user generated content" to the general populace, content which is designed (unintentionally, no doubt!) to push the unwary viewer straight into the arms of Morpheus, as it were.

Perhaps ... but likely not. I fear this is but one more sign that the barbarians are at the gate, threatening us with bread and circuses, and calling us to eat the lotus with them in the land of the giants. But I seem to be mixing my metaphors - I think I'm just a bit tired.

Last time, Jay wrote about flavored magazine ads and scented delivery systems:
Thurman Haney responded:
"While I always thought Pebbles was cute - and she was really hot in that later spin-off - I was always concerned that Bambam never got any juice. It just bothered me, and my parents could never explain ...."

Oh dear, Thurman, I fear you're having what we in the psych biz call a "fugue" episode - where you can't tell reality from fiction, and animation from live action. I think a nice dose of Welch's Concord Grape Juice® - with all those lovely anti- oxidants - perhaps laced with a tad of lithium might be in order.

-- Jay