Marketing Misses. (aka “Really?”)

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Part of me admires the constantly-evolving world of marketing. I have marketing friends I greatly admire and respect. Products and services are evolving into complex and unpredictable entities which would completely befuddle our grandparents, and sometimes our parents. As an example, while there have been dog-walking services for a long while, its practitioners are now instantly summoned with a smartphone app. I suspect the list of entirely-new products for the marketplace is mushrooming, as society continues to expect the ‘better mousetrap’ to make lives ‘easier’ by some measure.

And now, to the marketing misses.

Local auto dealers somehow manage to complicate a process that should be pretty easy. 1) List assets of a vehicle; 2) Compare its advantages in a favorable light to competing others; and 3) Offer a reasonable deal. Not so. Many dealerships thrive only on baseless hype, with no rhyme or reason. Case in point: “Truck Month” is not a nationally-observed time to promote a worthy cause. Instead it is a bogus event that should be called. “Let’s-unload-the-old-models-to-make-room-for-the-new-ones-coming-in-next-month-Month.” I could go for that level of honesty.

Along those same lines, I am off-put by dealer touts on radio spots that exclaim, “Thirteen thousand off Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price [MSRP].” This descriptor was for a high-end, loaded-with-goodies pickup truck. I have several problems with that tack, largely with the implication that if any vehicle can be bought for $13k off the MSRP sticker, what kind of obscenely-high profit is being made on vehicles sold at or near full price? No thank you.

In case you think that I only have concerns with local advertising and marketing, that is not the case.

I have been dumbfounded in considering what Volkswagen was thinking with the current series of ads for its Jetta™. Visualize a nondescript, blue vehicle which dances to heavy-beat music, mostly side-to-side, during the entire duration of the commercial. Zero information about the car is provided viewers in the voice-over. ‘Just a car dancing and rocking to the music. I hope that the unpredictable(?), side-to-side movement of the vehicle is not indicative of its handling on real highways. It’s a miss.

‘Misses’ are not limited to products. Some services — if television programming is a service — have strained founding mission statements to the breaking point. If I asked any of my primary students what sort of programs I could expect to see on The Science Channel, most would respond with, “Duh, science.”

I like much of the programming on The Science Channel (‘How the Universe Works’, ‘The Planets and Beyond’, ‘ Mysteries of the Abandoned’, ‘Mega Machines’, ‘Unearthed’ and that ilk come easily to mind).

Its misses on the other hand are epic. All of the ‘Battlebot’ iterations are absolutely insane. I suppose in an attempt to create yet another spectator ‘sport’ [term used loosely], Science saw fit to build acrylic enclosures around a ‘battlefield’ studio space, surrounded by stamping and yelling patrons, to watch Radio Control machines that saw, blast, hammer, flip and fry each other, until only one is left standing (or at least capable of moving, unaided). If that process had the slightest inkling of ‘science’ in its nature, I might be kinder with my observations. But, no! In addition to the follow spots on the action, there are two, ‘ringside’ announcers, who supply mindless patter at 90–100 decibels from start to finish. Among their memorable commentary includes such interjections, as, “OMG!!!!” and “I’ve never seen such destruction before!!!”

If that were the extent of the insanity, I would not have even broached this subject, but although I have yet to watch an episode of the ‘Bot Wars’ I cannot get to the remote quickly enough to avoid the incessant commercials for the shows. The shows air on Wednesday evenings. Immediately after the credits are run for the show just ended, the commercials for the battles next week are shown several times an hour, until the shows are on yet again the next following Wednesday. That may be a record, even for cable television.

That brings me to a general castigation. Just as there is precious little ‘history’ on The History Channel, there is little ‘science’ on The Science Channel. The pseudo-science offerings somehow never meet the challenge of its producers, unless they also provide an inordinate amount of explosions, fires or destruction in general to hype its content. Okay, one can still find some science on The Science Channel, but it remains a challenge.

While this discussion will have no impact on marketing or advertising, I somehow feel better having written it. A cathartic exercise if you will. Look for more essays on this subject. The sources of supply are inexhaustible.

Reader, blogger, musician and music promoter/event producer. Community activist and educational advocate.

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