Not just the passive annoyance many of us feel when tele-marketers call your house or spam your inbox. My hatred is deep-seeded, scourged into the fibrous sinews of my being, and fills my mouth with insipid bile whenever I am forced to even speak to someone who emblazons the word marketing on their business card.
Make no mistake my hatred is profound.
Marketing is what people do for a living when they have no particular skills, knowledge, insight or opinions. Marketing is a career path designed for the empty, the vacuous, the uninspired, the banal and the intolerably mediocre.
Marketing is the venerable haze cast about like a suburban musical society smoke blower to obscure ideas, imagination and progressive thinking.
Marketing is knowledge of Nothing masquerading as the understanding of Everything.
Marketing is not a Science (marketers are regularly guilty of crimes against statistics) Nor is Marketing an Art (it doesnt seek to create, inspire, shape or inform - its very existence serves only to regurgitate and reconstitute. To present the same old shit in a different bucket and charge good money for the privilege of the excrement remix)
To this I am forced to concede that I am myself may, as a journalist, be part of a marketing machine. But rather than lead me to renege my position this pseudo-fact just makes my hate all the more manifest fuelled, as it is, by a tinge of self-loathing.
But before I spill any more venom onto my digital page let us take a step back to review the definitions of Marketing. First to point out that Marketing is NOT Advertising.
This from the American Marketing Association
Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.
This from the text-book Principles of marketing by Philip Kotler, Gary Armstrong, Veronica Wong, John Saunders
A social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and values with others
And I cry Bullshit…! (Particularly the society at large bit - stop fooling yourself you mindless hacks)
I cry Bullshit on many grounds but the one particular bone I would like to pick is that above all else Marketing, as a process/entity/business exists wholly and solely to justify its own existence.
Without Marketing people would still make things and sell them. People would still identify a need and produce a product to service that need. And if nobody needed that thing then the person would stop making that thing. If lots of people needed that thing then they would make more and better things. Marketing is utterly supernumerary to this process. It is human imagination that drives the invention of things. Marketing does not make people more imaginative. Many of the greatest inventions of the modern world were created by accident or without specific market opportunity. Science itself is founded on the premise of open exploration and all the major discoveries in science and medicine in the modern age have come about through exploring with no particular market aim. Penicillin, Xrays, the Internet….
Necessity is not the mother of invention. Very often Invention precedes Necessity and produces its own self-fulfilling necessity. Invention is the Mother of Necessity.
Accepting this profound truism leads to a profound conclusion; if Marketing is not at all required for the creation of things, the need for things, nor the selling of things then Marketing exists with only one aim - to justify its own existence.
I am reminded of that famous quote (from someone insightful) The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.
If Marketing is not at all required for the creation of things, the need for things, nor the selling of things then Marketing is only required to sell things we dont need to as many people as possible who dont need them.
Marketing therefore has the prevailing, perennial, primary objective of justifying its own existence.
I am no market fundamentalist (the pinko commy lefty, greeny badge on my forehead prevents the self-lobotomy that would be necessary to be one) but when stripped to essentials there is undeniable truth in the notion that if you have something people need then people will want it; subsequently an economy is born. Marketing therefore is about identifying need where there isnt one, creating a want where there isnt one and determinging if there is a market for a thing that is unnecessary.
Market research is conducted to prove the worth of the market research. Marketing strategies are developed to identify the need for a marketing strategy. Marketing plans are written as mindless busy-work to justify the expense on the creation of a marketing plan.
Worst still is when (and this is where I get REALLY irate) good ideas, insightful speculation, informed hypothesis, educated guesses, bold risk-taking, a good hunch is slapped into bleeding mediocrity by Marketing. Wherever the Marketing God presides any suggestion of an Idea is met head on by calls for market research to investigate the viability of the market for unique selling points and consider the penetration of the product into targeted demographics. All this is nothing more than a giant smokescreen of slippery bullshit to avoid at all costs the process of having an IDEA.
And it makes sense that Marketing would proliferate such excrement for if such a head on challenge was not undertaken against IDEAS then the fallacy and irrelevance of Marketing would be plain and palpable for all to see. If the idea was left to stand and be explored then Marketing could not justify the time and cost of its existence and the vacuous - idea-free-zone - individuals who call themselves Marketers.
The great inventions, ideas, products and progresses of humanity did not common about because Market research showed the way! They came about through someone taking a punt, running on instinct, hazarding a guess, exploring a possibility, boldly going where no one has gone before.
It is this blender of ingenuity, insight, instinct and ideas that both Creates needs and Satisfies them whilst Marketing vigorously but pointlessly masturbates in the corner blithely convincing everyone that its even better than the real thing.
My ire, hatred and despair however has been tempered somewhat; not from outside haters like myself but from the termites within Marketing itself…
I notice increasing reluctance on the part of marketing executives to use judgment; they are coming to rely too much on research, and they use it as a drunkard uses a lamp post for support, rather than for illumination.
David Ogilvy - The Father of Advertising
Marketing is what you do when your product is no good
Edwin Land - Founder of the Polaroid company
And then there is this - The Audience Is Always Right - provides a profound insight into new thinking about what Audiences are and How they engage….
“Today’s media world is thrilling, captivating and full of challenges for brands - a revolution in brands and people’s behaviour in fact. But as in all revolutions, it’s sometimes difficult to get a clear view of what’s going on. And so, dear readers, TBWA’s strategy department was looking for patterns and similarities from different discussions and has attempted to sum up the revolution in 135 slides. Our goal is to explore the different ways of tackling today’s communication challenges - and to show how successful brands are switching from brand-centric to audience-centric behaviour. Inspired by many different people and brands, it intends to spark a conversation about the need for Media Arts, and how it is ingrained with the theory of Disruption.”
And if you still havnt had enough of the fun you simply must try this marketing+managment Bullshit Generator