Man wasn't that annoying! Listened to this book on the way to outlet yesterday, and the language it used annoyed the shxxt out of me. Let me explain why.

    Total attention

    The content is actually fine. There is a total sum of attention consumers can provide:

    total consumer attention = num_of_consumer x 16 hr/day x 365 days/yr x adjustment %

    So in essence this term is equivalent to a percentage of total time a consumer spends on a particular message, which corresponds to what I have always been saying that the only dimension immune to any manipulation and variables (by far) is time — it is a continuously flow forward. No one can stop it; no one can shorten it or expand it; and nothing can ignore it.

    So far, so good. Then the talk starts a deep dive into what he thinks the successful stories of marketing by quoting history of certain marketing and strategies, and that's when it started to annoy me, badly.

    Grand labeling

    First, the term 祖师爷. What does it mean? This is such a common term used by the Chinese as if everybody has agreed upon its definition. Here is one:

    1. 某种技艺的发明创造者。
    2. 对一行业的形成,有过重大贡献的人。
    3. 某位历史名人,曾做过某种行业。
    4. 某为神灵与某一行业有关。

    But you see, when you want to make a statement that a marketing strategy is not new, you can use a supportive evidence by tracing back in time to find an older instance of it. But then labeling that instance to 祖师爷 (and the talk is filled with this term, 祖师爷this, 祖师爷 that..), no! Where is the proof that he invented the strategy? or to prove that his practice of the trade contributed significantly to the development of this line of business? Since words like significantly must be relative, the argument has to be provide a reference, sth like

    Before his time, the work was done in such a such way, and it was less effective... comparing to his new method....

    Something like that. Otherwise, that's just a single instance you mentioned and then quickly labeled with a good looking word 祖师爷 as if this is self-justified! But you see, that's exactly the problem of today's Chinese expression — because it lacks the depth of research, or lacks the willingness to convey knowledge, it falls back to use these terms liberally as a window dresser so to make it impressive, but actually vague at best, and completly false at worst!

    This is cheating. This can easily becomes a lie. A grand label doesn't make your message any more true than it is. Period. But sadly, it can fool some of the people some of the time.


    Now comes the worst part. First, let me make this clear, whoever thinks of marketing as being dressed up every moment (night and day) and party party, you shouldn't do this business, at all.

    Marketing/advertising is neither flashy nor noble. It itself is not 高大上, because it's a line of business that, like everyone else, takes a lot of research, hard work, and discipline to be successful. I think the underline image of a marketer being always the one standing the spot light making some grand announcement to his audience (yes, and the talk inevitably used Hitler as an example of such image) is just wrong by itself!

    No, I'm not against using Hitler in this context — he certainly had his way to launch propaganda and influence his audience. But his being the tag of this horrifying episode of human history was not rooted in his charm or his voice or his marketing strategy. No. The event has a deeply rooted historical context traced way back beyond the defeat of the WWI. So to me, German or Europe was to have a war with or without Hitler. Someone was bound to play that role. If the talker ever reads some history of WWII and of Hitler, the sentiment of antisemitism was not a creation of Nazi as many (particular my fellow Chinese) have falsely thought.

    So one thing the talk got it right, is that propaganda is a weapon of massive destruction, and that's exactly why I'm totally totally against any social propaganda led by the all mighty government regardless how wonderful the message may be and how wonderful the outcome in the future may be. Whatever it is advertising might lead everyone to paradise; but the means to achieve it, the way the message is communicated, can be seamlessly used to lead everyone to hell, because fundamentally such practice silents independent thinking and voice, and that is the worst one can do to himself, both in the scale of a society and in the scale of an individual.

    Creating needs

    IMHO, the talk completly misled audience to think that marketing and advertising is to manipulate consumer's mind so to make them believe they have a need. The example of orange juice is just terrible. It was true; but it is also true that marketer was nothing but the executor of a business desire driven by an industry, not the inventor. Everyone has this idea — to sell you something, I need to create a belief in you to feel good about having it. So just like any idea on this earth, ideas are cheap, the execution is the hard part.

    And when you talk about belief, well, there are only two ways to achieve that — propaganda (so you are soaked in a mono-tone message), or censorship. The end result is the same, that you are insulated from alternatives and different opinions, well, if yourself don't think! The public image of creditable people such as doctors and experts just to shape your view before you have one yourself. But don't you see how evil this practice is!!?

    No. Marketing and advertisement should not be this way. It started to bridge the gap between seller and buyer, where buyer already has a need and seller is providing the service. Yes, new needs are constantly evolving, shifting, marketing and advertising are researchers who discover them, not creating them.

    If you examine any of the examples quoted in this talk, you will realize any of the created-needs came from a human desire far deep than what marketer can influence — how about health? Yes, all the diet product, orange juice story, Q-10.. it's all about human wants to stay healthy. Period. It's the branch that grows these leaves, not the other way around.

    So when the talk is making it sound marketing has invented these needs (and is the success story for all future marketers to follow), I could not disagree more! Stop thinking marketing is to be super being who can form this world! That's the path leads to another dictator!! Instead, your mission is to have a deep insight of the human desire (psychology) and society (social study), and be the sensor of what is going on at this moment in this country, in this society, in this world.

    Evil politics want to control your mind and tell you what you like and dislike; marketer and advertisement should not be. They can become one only when you yourself let them. So pls do me a favor, don't.

    — by Feng Xia


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