Stupidity Sells

As the proud possessor of a marketing minor, thus solidifying my major in cynicism, I have found that I have entered no man’s land in terms of target demographics. After being subjected to countless radio, television, newspaper, and bulletin board ads, I find that I am one of the elite race immune to modern day marketing tactics. Either our kind has reached the next rung on the ladder of human evolution (at the end of which we become shiny pinpoints of light that subsist on nutrient pills and Dostoyevsky novels), or the remainder of the populace has devolved back towards their drooling, primordial predecessors.

Yes, today’s marketing campaigns employ techniques that should be recognized by the most remedial of preschoolers as complete and utter poo. (“Poo,” of course, is the marketing industry’s technical jargon for the obtuse cluttering of available advertising media with sub-par material.) While nauseatingly simplistic in nature, there are, ironically enough, several categories of advertising rubbish (marketing industry technical jargon that serves as a synonym for “poo”).

First, there is the “down home” relational style of marketing. Students of this marketing philosophy believe that they can sell you anything if only they can convince you that they are your Great Aunt Bertha. They would have you believe that their employees are armed with a bevy of steaming apple pies to welcome you to the neighborhood. D’ya hear that deep, folksy voice and our charming use of the local vernacular? Not only can we relate to y’all, we’re just like you. When you buy gas from our stations, it’s like borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbor – except we’ll throw in a pack of smokes (for a few extra bucks, of course). Hear that there country music in the background? Yep, we even listen to y’all’s myoosic. We’re not just a gas station – we’re family. Ayup.

Secondly, there is the “crazy Larry” advertising approach. This variety is most often locally (and cheaply) produced and believes itself to be riotously amusing, as apparently sometime in the course of recent human history, mental illness became a subject of vast, universal hilarity, and thus an effective example of the humorous advertising genre. This is Craaazy Larry from the downtown Crazy Larry’s Discount Furniture Blowout Super Store. Our prices are insanely low. Why? Because I’m craaazy. And you’d have to be craaazy to pass by these deals! Just remember, nothing says “quality” quite like Craaazy Larry.

Lastly, there is the “anything can be sold with babies and puppies” school of marketing. Regardless of product type, this school teaches that more of it could be sold if only something cute, fuzzy, and/or cuddly is slapped on to its packaging or commercials. Parasites devouring your animal’s flesh? This singing puppy will lift your spirits and de-worm your dog. Toilet paper feels more like sandpaper? These animated teddy bears crapping in the woods recommend the cottony goodness of Charmin. And, as with most things in America, bigger is better. Thus, if a baby with superior taste in flooring is cute on television, a gigantic baby head with a one hundred foot radius on a bulletin board is one hundred times cuter (and sells one hundred times more carpeting). Thus, this type of advertising should have its effectiveness measured in terms of the ratio of sales to bulletin board baby square footage. The effectiveness of this genre quickly dwindles, however, once one comes to the question of how, precisely, one feeds and diapers the body accompanying a one hundred foot baby head.

While the aforementioned marketing genres are perhaps a blight upon the illustrious marketing profession, we must at least lend their creators a nominally sized kudos, as they provide a public service of sorts. After all, who else could provide such a wealth of perpetual entertainment for misanthropes worldwide?


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