Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Join The (Marketing) Movement

It seems that Madison Avenue has figured out (or thinks it has) how to reach Millennials. Millennials are notoriously hard to reach because they're (A) finicky, (B) effort-shy, and (C) confused by their own cynicism. They also have a strange set of beliefs where they don't want to deal with traditional companies, which are seen as evil capitalist environmental exploiters, unless those companies virtue signal, in which case their sins are forgotten, see e.g. Nike and Apple. So how is Madison Avenue reaching these clowns? Bro-Marketing.

What is Bro-Marketing?

You've heard of "Bro-country," right? Two douchebags sing about how they had a party and got drunk in some field with some country girl but also possibly with homoerotic intent. Well, this is different. This is safety in numbers as two gosh darn shy guys reveal how they were forced into opening a company to sell you crap because the way those other guys do it is crazy!
Hi. Me and my buddy Booger like stuff, but when big companies sell it, it's really expensive. We thought that was crazy. So we started our own stuff company. We made our own designs (with production software). Had it manufactured (by sweatshops in China), distributed to over 150 countries (with DHL supply chain management), had pictures of it taken at Burning Man, and built a community. Yep, just the two of us. For you... and our community.
This is the sales pitch: (1) we are normal people who were SHOCKED to find that some product was so big businessy. (2) So we built a new kind of company to make the same product only more virtuously and sell it to you. (3) Act nervous about appearing in the ads. (4) Under no circumstances note that we use big business to handle every link in the production/distribution chain, and (5) mention that you're building a community of people who like the product (a herd mentality sales pitch for the cell phone generation).

I've seen this nearly identical pitch for erectile dysfunction drugs ("Roman" - founded by Chip and his dad the doctor), watches ("Movement" - founded by Booger and Trevor), contact lenses by mail ("Hubble" - founded by Skippy and Flounder), and even a beach clean up company founded by two surfer dudes ("4Ocean" - founded by Bill and Ted). Four identical companies isn't just a trend, it's a sea change.

The sales pitch is the same for each. It is also utterly fraudulent. These are not little companies founded by some random dude and his bromance. These are slickly marketed creations that sell the illusion of a new, more pure way for hipsters to shop without supporting big business, even as big business reaps the profit. Indeed, these people walk a fine line between making it clear that they are NOT a garage band when talking about quality and safety, but then wanting you to believe they are a garage band when it comes to virtue.

Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Chip and Booger's plans. Frankly, it's brilliant marketing and it seems to zero in directly on what makes the modern consumer tick. And since consumer preference and politics come out the same human orifice, I suspect this is telling us something we should know about politics. In fact, I think it explains both Obama and Trump and can be used to predict who will be future nominees.

Consider this.

1. This pitch is anti-establishment, especially against big business. Both parties have adopted anti-Big Business rhetoric and anti-establishment has been the norm for political figures for some time now, even long-time insiders. Trump and Obama both checked this box.

2. Even more so though, the anti-establishment pitch is tempered with the idea that while they are a business version of a garage band, Chip and Booger are selling you the idea that they are high quality, as if they were establishment. Again, Trump and Obama both hit this. Both sold themselves as outsiders, but at the same time, sold themselves as high-end professionals.

3. The pitch is super-vague on details. So is modern politics. Candidates with detailed messages die. But it's simultaneously very big picture... transformative. Again, Trump had Make America Great and Obama had a post-racial America. Highly transformative.

4. Each of these companies is pushing the idea of a community. That again fits Obama and Trump. You apparently, need to be the leader of a movement, not just a campaign.

5. Now it gets odd. While Booger and friends feign insecurity, both Obama and Trump were overtly arrogant. The current crop of Democrats play insecure. So are they onto something? Is it possible consumers are changing from wanting arrogant leaders to insecure leaders? I don't think so. While Booger is insecure and appears humble in his ads, he really isn't. Each of these guys calls the established world "crazy" and acts like it's nothing for them to build these companies from scratch. I think the arrogance is there, but it's not-well hidden behind a veneer of faux-insecurity. I would guess that the faux-veneer is the new piece to the puzzle.

So what will the best candidates look like? Anti-establishment. Anti-Big Business. High-level credentials outside of running for office. Running on transformative message, but offering no details. Talks about leading a movement, not a campaign. And must be arrogant about abilities to lead, but fake a see-through facade of false modesty that doesn't hide the arrogance too much.

Bernie is too earnest and has no credentials. Warren lacks credentials and is chasing details. Harris isn't competent or arrogant. Yang is lost in the details. Biden is none of the above. Klobuchar has no false modesty or credentials. Hickenlooper and Inslee have no movement. The gay mayor, Buttkiss has no credentials or transformative message. Beto... Beto may have all of this.

I think I'm going to watch to see who molds themselves into Booger.



tryanmax said...

Imagine seeing Shrek without ever having seen Snow White, Robin Hood, or Pinocchio. That’s exactly how it is for Millennials. They were brought up on metanarrative without narrative. All they know are Mary Sues who get fed up, tear down everything they run into with, everyone thanks them for it. They’ve received very confused messages about modesty and arrogance that equate the former with timidity and the latter with courage.

I don’t know what Beto’s message is. If he has one, you may be right, but it kinda seems like he doesn’t.

Anthony said...

Scary but makes sense to me.

AndrewPrice said...

Anthony, I have to say that I'm not really happy about this either, but it seems to be how things are headed.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's an interesting point, knowledge of the metanarrative without knowing the narratives within really seems to fit a lot of "thinking" these days. It makes is very easy to compartmentalize.

I have no idea what Beto's message is either, but I'm assured by his followers in the media that he's "transformative." (By which, I think they mean that (1) he's different and (2) he almost won in Texas).

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! Georgetown University students have voted to add a $27 fee to pay reparations to black people. So the "suffering" of black people now has a price. Your "pain" is worth $27.

Thus proving once again that virtue signalling is for idiots.

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