You can fool some of the people all of the time

“You can fool some of the people all of the time…”And so it goes. There are those who believe that advertising, promotion, PR and what have you is based on this notion. Not quite sure that is what Abraham Lincoln had in mind…to be sure. Although for those who have seen Mad Men…but that’s another story… Truth is – what’s worse…or sadder perhaps – is when the “fooler” believes their own hype. Imagine the seller of patent medicines and nostrums imbibing their own poison! Unheard of – if for no other reason their business wouldn’t last for long…if you get my drift.

It has long been known that in times of economic stress and general crisis, the desire for “magic bullets,” black boxes and the like becomes heightened and the ability to fool seems to rise accordingly.

The corollary is that when calm is restored and the curtain is pulled back revealing the truth, those who were fooled – allowed themselves to be fooled – are holy in their intense fury for retribution.

Seems to me – as I have been opining – we are in such times. While some look for the magic bullet and are ready to have the proverbial wool pulled over their eyes – others are content to re-find the basics and weather the storm if you will – confident in their products and services – keeping their momentum going but ready to pick up speed as necessary.

I guess the question we have to ask ourselves is what are the basics? You see we get caught up in the knee-jerk reaction that somehow basics are old. HOW WRONG!

Let’s be clear – basics do not mean you eschew the new – au contraire – basics just mean you apply intelligent and honest filters to your thinking and that you begin with what you know to be true – in our case, human behavior. In fact, in many cases I’d argue…

We, as humans, do the same things our ancestors in the caves did – we just are a little more comfortable and a lot more digital – although sadly not any smarter based on daily news.

Case in point – client X needs to retain their “almost loyal” customer base – what do we do? I know – A Viral Video with a social networking component that links to key blogs and vlogs and has a Twitter application that launches from Facebook. WHEW! Leading edge – right? Shows my deep connection to digital thinking and WEB 2.0+++…not to mention my creativity and with it savvy!

Sadly – I have seen answers like that; I have read them in our industry trade journals and I have heard them presented in major conferences and watched other cave people like me nod their heads wisely in agreement…

As I said – there is nothing worse than believing your own BS…

Case in point – which you can find on your own as I don’t want to embarrass the agency of record.

Last week it was reported that a new campaign for an “old” product was about to break. And the break was breakthrough!!! Videos for the web; outreach to bloggers and other influencers; lots of social stuff and, yes, by the way a big broadcast launch of TV commercials using the same idea.

What’s wrong with this picture? Nothing really – I guess – all good activities – all things to do – although the umpteenth “make your own video and we will pick the best one” etc., etc., etc. is getting boring. No, what got me was the by the way about so-called TV (refer to last week and HULU).

You see the biggest spend is on broadcast; their biggest audience will be on broadcast; the original creative was conceived for broadcast – everything else follows – in this case – the broadcast – so say it! Without broadcast, this particular program would die; the customers would defect and the agency would be fired.

Yet, because some have swallowed the potion of hype – we pretend and allow to pretend otherwise. Get back to basics – nature – the customer – real insight.

Let me send you looking at a great case study some of you might know.

A number of years ago a movie called the Blair Witch Project was released. And what excitement it was released to!!! The first movie marketed entirely on the web!!!! Imagine – no more spending millions promoting movies in places like print or on TV or billboards – or wherever – all you needed was to get a buzz going online.

Read the story – it’s fascinating. It seems Hollywood had never promoted itself before; had never created pre-opening excitement; had never seeded stories and anecdotes and scandal to hype attendance – you get the picture.

So much for magic bullets –

“Yet most accounts of the film’s promotion overlook the extent of its conventional marketing project, one that included advertising, especially on MTV; a series of ads in major college newspapers; alternative weeklies, and magazines with young readership like Rolling Stone; and widely distributed posters for the ‘missing’ principals of the film.”

And worse is listening to the whining of the executives “justifying” their use of so-called conventional marketing.

Again – this is not about any activity vs. another – nor is it about conventional vs. unconventional – it is about basics and being smart.
Seems we have yet to learn the lesson of the Blair Witch Project. So, here is a thought to chew on:

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.”
– Richard Feynman

And there you have it – reality, basics, good solid thinking – for while we can fool some of the people – its only for some of the time – and we can’t fool them all.

What do you think? And by the way, the movie sucked:;start=1836

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