Mr Ritson, let’s talk about marketing turkeys
The Turkey problem is an allegory created by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain that data-patterns from the past are no assurance of what may happen in the future. That was the mistake or, pneuma, committed by Professor Mark Ritson on a recent column where he says the current crisis will not bring any major changes to how we live, work and shop. Ritson might be right but any attempt on predicting the future this time is a fallacy. Here's why.
- The current crisis is unlike any other from the past. Hence, using data from past crises to predict the impact of this one is like comparing apples with pears or, marketers with growth hackers.
- In the disciplines of Futures Studies and Strategic Foresight the future is analysed and projected as a learning trajectory, with specific milestones allowing for the creation of a desired outcome and/or preventing and anticipating certain developments.
- To influence the future one must change deeply ingrained beliefs, usually understood in the form of metaphors. And metaphors are incredibly powerful at both reframing worldviews and changing reality. Despite of no military confrontation or actual fighting, war and its accompanying lexicon was the metaphor chosen from world leaders to brands to illustrate the nature of our crisis.
- The Hero’s Journey is a narrative archetype and metaphor used by most brands when communicating what they stand for. It is a boyhood narrative where the hero goes on an adventure (e.g. a war), and in a decisive crisis wins a victory, and then comes home changed or transformed.
- To ensure that the outcome of the current crisis is dissimilar from previous ones, a new narrative and metaphor, for brands, business and nations is required, namely the kingship archetype. This is a narrative about collective success, being of service and, ultimately, leaving a legacy for the greater good.
Professor Mark Ritson has urged marketers to become turkeys and labeled marketing writers with a different view, arsehats. Just as Ritson exposed untrained marketers for setting their annual budgets – not from base zero – but from nonsensical extrapolations from previous years, shouldn’t we also question extrapolations from dissimilar, past crises – from untrained foresight practitioners - when projecting the possible effects of the current one?
As explained by the Institute of Security Studies, an agency from the European Union: “[strategic] foresight is really about: choice, decision and action – and not prediction, as is often assumed. It is an intellectual and creative exercise designed to help decision-makers develop and make choices, challenge long-held beliefs, focus their resources and attention, and prevent and anticipate certain developments”.
According to Professor Sohail Inayatullah, UNESCO’s Chair in Futures Studies and with whom I learnt about strategic foresight: “metaphors present themselves as the main causation drivers of the future.”
In fact, even the briefest exposure to the Apple logo may make you behave more creatively, according to a research led by Professor Gavan Fitzsimons from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business. In this case, the apple on Apple’s logo is a metaphor for creativity or, as stated on the brand’s slogan, your choice to “think different”.
In order to tell their stories, brands have, by-and-large, chosen to follow the Hero’s Journey narrative archetype and war-inspired metaphors to help create a sense of self-importance. For example, Burger King’s promotional piece that heroically summons “couch po-ta-triots” to stay home and make orders through their app.
While heroes seek to collect individual victories, kingship is about collective success, being of service and, ultimately, leaving a legacy for the greater good. To that end, the city of Amsterdam has formally embraced the Doughnut Economics model while Spain is taking progressive steps to the implementation of an universal basic income. Brands like LVMH, Burberry and a few others have also adopted kinglier behaviours, without the need of heroic campaigns to promote such actions. Changes are already happening, it’s up to us to decide whether or not these will be sustained and, effectively, enable a better future.
Building mental availability in audio has never been more challenging. Once-traditional radio businesses are now competing with video, streaming and social media content – but audio has some powerful strengths in that battle. As NOVA Entertainment’s Adam Johnson writes, the ‘Place’ in McCarthy’s ‘Four Ps’ is key with quality content and ubiquitous access –physical availability – driving marketers’ goals through audio.
Patagonia’s repairs, New Balance’s leather leading as consumers’ vote with wallets for future value – conscience and commerce key
What can Benjamin Franklin, the ‘Green Revolution’ and consumer purpose teach us about future value? A lot, writes VMLY&R’s Troy Nicoll. In the third instalment of VMLY&R’s value series, he says brands that move last will be remembered – negatively. And those that understand ‘value’ as being a holistic, long-term relationship with consumers – like Patagonia and New Balance – will help reimagine marketing thinking. People are already voting with their wallets out of principle, identity, and survival.
There’s an unfair image of Millennials out there that paints them as poor financial managers, economics journalist Jess Irvine says. But they’re hungrier for information and advice than any generation before them. Despite this, a new survey from Nine has found that they’re becoming less sure of themselves. And with more than seven million Australians aged 18 to 39 set to inherit $320,000 each over the next 20 years – that’s $3.5 trillion in total – the brands that share smart information that doesn’t oversimplify things can help these Millennials – and themselves.