Miruna Codeanu

A personal experience with marketing and innocence

In espresso on April 18, 2013 at 6:35 am

I grew up reading psychology, philosophy, then developed an interest in advertising and later on started working in marketing. Probably, from the moment you start developing an interest in the human mind, there is innocence and belief to be lost. Yes, somehow, same old science and belief, same old curiosity kills innocence.  I am, however, a great audience for stories. You can just start your sentence with “once upon a time” or follow the structure of a classical fairy tale and you’ve got my attention.

I’ve been around the advertising world since high school, then moved to marketers’ world. Through the years spent in these two social groups I’ve seen at least one major difference: advertisers still think they can change the world while marketers think of the profit. A marketer may accept something that is different, challenging, but not because they believe in innovation, but because they think their brand can get awareness, hype, commitment, that is to be translated in money. Standing and seeing the world from these two perspectives, there is smoldering fire between the two. Behind closed doors there’s plenty frustration with the client on the agency’s side and plenty frustration on the client’s side with the agency: creatives complain of the plainness of the client, the client accuses “art for the sake of art” in advertising agencies. Both of you suspect this is happening, and yes, it is happening. 

Yes, I am on the marketers’ side, because that’s my perspective for the time being, but also for the logics behind it:  someone hires someone else to do job just because doing so, they get more profit, where profit translates into anything, including money, but not only money. Being on the marketers’ side gives me a certain perspective, which doesn’t make me less aware of the other perspective. At the end of the day, I am a humanities person, I can relate to art and creativity. Being a humanities person I also known that throughout history art served a precise purpose be that either political or religious. Settling for Classical Antiquity as the beginning of art, in aproximately 2700-2800 years, there are less than 100 years of “art for the sake of art” and even “art for the sake of art” serves a purpose.

Sometimes I find myself comparing and contrasting my views with other’s people views and values. I call it reality check. S0, yesterday I found myself watching the new commercial for Dove, a video they named “Sketches” . It tells the story of a project: a former FBI trained forensic artist draws the portraits of seven women by their own description of themselves. The result isn’t flattering, on the contrary. There’s morals: we’re harsh on ourselves. In my mind I definitely see huge viral potential in it and in a few hours I see it featured in a national newspaper’s website presented as an experiment. It might have been media space they bought or not, if it was bought, Dove was smart, if it wasn’t paid for, Dove was brilliant. I can tell this campaign is going to have hype, media coverage, social media coverage and word of mouth. It is wow-ish, and it is definitely going with the values and communication scheme Dove built.

So here I am, watching the video and judging it for the message and foreseeing the future hype. I see it shared by many of my peers. However, the message doesn’t reach through to me. “Hmm…why doesn’t Dove manage to convince me I’m harsh on myself?”. Why can’t I see this video any other way than as an advert. The strategy is not ingenious, it has been done before: “8 out of 10 women reported that …”, “studies show us…”, “laboratories found that…”, however the package for the message is ingenious and I salute Dove for that. I am seeing everybody embracing Dove’s message “real beauty…” and I can’t and it becomes somehow frustrating at a certain point. Bottom line: it is a commercial, and I cannot see beyond the fact that is a commercial. I stand on the side of the client. The agency probably believed in the message delivered, I, as a marketer, want to see results, return. I have the biased eyes of a marketer. I cannot see past the finality of a commercial.

Marketing alters your views and perspectives. Somehow, we’re macro salesmen. We find a weakness, we design a product for it, add a benefit, take the blunt sales techniques add a bow and polka dots and sell them to you. I hear you, Yves Saint Laurent, I’m with you on this one. Cosmetics are easier to buy. Cosmetic industry is one of the most profitable industries in the world. The cosmetic industry relies on flaws and insecurities.

Kids, don’t do this at home, if you are not strong enough to deal with naked truths and disbelief just don’t become a marketer.  However, even result oriented marketers should really listen to a good story once in a while, so pay attention to your advertising agency next time.

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  1. […] previously wrote about Dove’s marketing strategy here and here. I’ll sum it up: they have a good strategy, adapted to their audience. However, you might be […]

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