My friend Cliff pointed out this cartoon from the New Yorker. It’s very funny, but the humour comes from wondering why people buy vinyl when it is more expensive and less convenient than digital formats and streaming. Surely it makes no sense?
For me, this shows the limitations of thinking about marketing propositions in rational terms. People by and large don’t make logical choices and in the case of vinyl, as always, it’s worth thinking harder about what they really are buying.
They might articulate that they prefer a warm sound, or they appreciate the larger artwork, but I suspect on a deeper level they’re buying into how it makes them feel and how it fits their desired self image.
Do they long for a taste of their formative years? Or maybe it’s an oasis from an always on digital world.
Whatever it is, vinyl continues to sell and it’s a reminder that rational thinking and rational messaging can only ever scratch the surface.
“..There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”
Now replace the word ‘water’ with ‘digital’
Businesses continue to think of digital as something separate. Consumers don’t see it like that. To them, it’s just part of their life. It’s all around them and just something that is.
Let’s stop referring to digital marketing. It’s marketing in a digital world.
Don’t read this if you’ve not seen the final episode.
I’ve just finished watching the finale and what an unexpected finish. But yet it all makes perfect sense and we’d been given clues all along the way.
Don has spent the final series trying to find love and family life and been rebuffed at every turn. He gets divorced, Sterling Cooper leaves him, his dying wife rejects him and even the daughter of the woman who’s husband’s name he steals is too messed up to be family for him.
In the final episode, he only connects with his inner pain through a stranger’s dream – the tale of how an ordinary man thinks everyone else is having fun and he’s left on the fridge shelf locked away – like an unwanted product.
Don’s can’t find inner peace by chanting Om with the seekers on the clifftop, but he recognises how such moments move other people. His sudden smile is not soulful enlightenment, but for a marketing insight. It literally dawns on him, “Well this would make a great Coke ad”
He has failed at finding true happiness, so he goes back to selling it to other people.
He leaves the retreat, goes back to McCann and makes that Coca-Cola ad.
We didn’t have tech culture magazines back in the 80s. There were things like Computer Shopper and probably Tandy catalogues, but, with perhaps the exception of nascent video game mags, no-one loved the change of experience that was coming – it was all about hardware and tech specs. God, it was dull.
I distinctly remember reading an article about a new CD player in a solemn hi-fi publication. The reviewer found it hilarious that the remote control had an eject button. He thought it must clearly have been an oversight as what was the point in ejecting a CD from across the room? You had to go to the machine anyway, so who needed such a button?
Of course, all remote controls now have such buttons. No-one needs them, but little, marginal conveniences all add up to a better product experience.
But people don’t like change. It makes them uncomfortable. And it’s much easier to direct that inner discomfort externally with left-brain scoffing about why something won’t work and asking whether people realy need them.
The Apple Watch reminds me of that review. I took delivery of mine this week and I know this is the start of something.
The killer benefit of the Watch is that you spend less time needing to fish your phone out of your pocket, unlocking it and navigating to the app you need.
Now text messages, sports scores, walking directions and more are a simple glance away. Leave the phone in your pocket, your bag or on the kitchen table.
That doesn’t sound like a huge existing problem being solved, but when you experience the simpler, smoother experience, you don’t want to go back.
It’s a bit like having the CD already ejected by the time you’ve walked over to the player.
Sam Cooke said this when told he had a beautiful voice: He said, “Well that’s very kind of you, but voices ought not to be measured by how pretty they are. Instead they matter only if they convince you that they are telling the truth.”
Asked about where he gets the big ideas of his campaigns, he replied that “big ideas in all fields come from only one place: the unconscious. Nobody’s ever had a big idea by a process of rational thought.” He described his process of digesting as much research material as possible, followed by “a good dinner and a bottle of claret, and then I got the idea from my unconscious. I won’t say I was totally unconscious after the claret, but I wasn’t at my best — except my unconscious mind was working and sent a telegram to my conscious mind.”
Stuff you knew you needed to know… and stuff you didn’t
What colour is it?
Specific colours are described by hex numbers. This is a neat way to catalogue 16.7m possibilities in just six characters. But what colour is #063551? Wonder no more with this web clock that constantly changes its background to match the hex equivalent of the current time. Put it on your second monitor and see when it’s time for teal.
Douglas Adams foresaw our tech future perhaps better than anyone else. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy was itself a premonition of Wikipedia, and contained wondrous – but surely impossible – concepts such as the real-time translating Babel Fish. Well, hang on to your comfort towels because the resurgent post-Ballmer Microsoft has had a go a doing this with Skype Translator – described by some as the most futuristic thing I’ve ever used.
Fascist dystopian iPad game of the week Papers Please really shouldn’t work. In this showy, freemium era, charging $8 for a totalitarian border guard sim with 8-bit graphics from the ZX Spectrum era sounds crazy. But the game works by disconcertingly putting you in the shoes of a lowly passport checker, making life-changing decisions under pressure whilst protecting your family. The moral dilemmas hit home hard.
Stuff you knew you needed to know… and stuff you didn’t
It’s probably testament to the dangers of pride, but aren’t we often told how wonderful English is, how rich it is, and how its speakers are the only ones who really get puns? That is, of course, nonsense. The human condition consists of far too dense a weave to be defined by any single language. This humbling incompleteness is demonstrated brilliantly by Lost in Translation: an illustrated catalog[ue] of beautiful untranslatable words from around the world. How many of us recognise the bittersweet pleasure of Trepverter?
Coca-Colais getting into milk. If this feels slightly startling, it’s worth remembering that the Real Thing does far more than just the Real thing. It’s already a market leader in carbonates, energy drinks and water. The nationwide launch of premium priced Fairlife is due next year.
Still on the topic of beverages, can the colour of cups affect your perception of flavour? This coffee-tasting study suggests that it can. Apparently, that flat white will seem more bitter in a white cup. Smileys are taking over the world. Emojis, those colourful little characters we add to messages, have become so popular that the gatekeepers of text standards arehaving to evolve their thinking to keep up. Not only are there now more diverse characters available, but a new system will ensure the Unicode standard is quicker at responding to new suggestions. Check out the wonderful Emojipedia (yes, really) for the most requested new characters.
Sample wow quote, “Companies like Ebay, Facebook and Uber are very valuable because they benefit tremendously from the network effects that come from keeping all user information in centralized in private silos and taking a cut of all the transactions. Decentralized protocols on top of the blockchain have the potential to undo every single part of the stacks that make these services valuable to consumers and investors. They can do this by, for example, creating common, decentralized data sets to which any one can plug into, and enabling peer to peer transactions powered by Bitcoin.”