Digital Marketing, Social Media Marketing

Delusional Marketing

We drink a lot of Zobo in marketing and advertising. In the US, Zobo would be Kool-Aid. But they both have the same effect. They encourage a unicorn to believe in itself. Substitute sound reasoning with delusional thinking. We drink them by the gallons in marketing and advertising.

One of my pet peeves in advertising – peddled by some social media and ‘digital marketing’ hucksters – is the ill-founded belief that consumers want to ‘engage’ with a brand or have a ‘relationship’ with a brand. Total baloney. People want to have relationships with other people, not with a bar of soap.

Most people, if we bother to ask them, are not mooning around seeking a brand to fall in love with or be ‘engaged’ with. People are preoccupied with the weightier things of life, like their career, family, children, health or how to live a happier or more fulfilling life. That’s what keep people up at night. That and Arsene Wenger.

Call me naïve, but I’m yet to see a mum who slashes her wrist because she can’t find Aunt Jemima on the shelf.

If a brand manages to help people meet one of these needs, lucky for the brand. It gets bought. If it is a really really good brand, it gets bought again. That’s as good as any ‘relationship’ a brand can desire from consumers. It can’t be anything intimate like Snoop Dog and weed.

Oh, I’m not saying that brands can’t have a strong pull on people. I’ve once joined a queue that stretched to Babylon to buy an iPhone (I’ve long been cured of such infirmities). Yes, people have favourite brands. But no way I’m going to pick an Apple keynote event over Champions League football. No brand is simply that important in my life, and I dare say, in the lives of most of humanity.

Another peeve: “making the brand a part of consumer conversations.”

I imagine those sorts of conversations go like this:


Emeka:     Yo, Chibz, did you see that incredible comeback by Barcelona?

Chibz:        It was crazy! How do you blow a 4-goal lead?

Emeka:     It’s Barcelona we’re talking about here! I’m tipping Neymar to win Ballon d’Or.

Chibz:        You know, Meks, we’ve got to be grateful to Heineken for bringing the match to us.

Emeka:     Yep. Heineken is a premium lager for upwardly mobile professionals like us.

Chibz:        Word. I want to be a global player like Heineken.

Emeka:     Did you know James Bond swapped Vodka Martini for Heineken in Skyfall?

Chibz:       Did you know Heineken’s revenue in 2013 was $21.8bn? Higher than GDP of Albania, Cambodia and Jamaica.

Emeka:       Let’s toast to Heineken after work.

Maybe you know people who talk about brands like that. I don’t.

Now, Heineken is one fine beer, make no mistake. But the only people who’d likely wax lyrical about it day and night are the Master Brewer, CMO and Brand Managers. Consumers are generally too busy with important stuff to think of our brands the way we marketing folks think they do or want them to. They are thinking about school fees, rent, debts or their jobs. But we think brands are super important in their lives. That’s some chilled Zobo right there. Brands are important in people’s lives to the extent that they help them solve a problem or meet a need. They are never going to be ‘part of our conversations.’

I leave you with these satirical cartoons from Tom Fishburne.



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