Utopia Vs. Nice – The importance of relevance in Advertising

In the Grand People’s State of Australasyia, there is nutritious food for all, a superior education system, lots of sport, an effective health care system and a sense of balance and fair play in things social and commercial. Regularly the people make decisions on things that effect their lives; government, major purchases, infrastructure, international relations, even taxes and laws.

The sages who keep this running smoothly, the true back-bone of the country, are the marketerians. They are the holders of all true knowledge. The great marketerians are in, or at the key seats of power. The marketerians hold sway, represent the people to those whom they have elected, and often make the final decisions. The marketerians are revered for their honesty, their frankness, their translucency.

The marketerians do not rise to these positions of trust and power lightly. This is not a born-into profession. They must study for many years, work hard at their calling. They must learn the subtleties of social management, psychology, research, decision-making, finances and law. They dedicate years to honing their peculiar sciences and arts before they can work at the highest levels of their calling. The marketerians are like Tibetan Buddist Monks or ex-footy-players; revered across of the land of Australasyia.

And they do have a sense of humour – which is an important trait for running a happy society.

Australasyia wasn’t always a happy place. And every year the people celebrate to remind themselves of what used to be, and how much better off they are now. Every year, on Guy Fucks Day, (or Fuck Guys day if you’re so inclined) an effigy is burnt of the beancountians, who used to control Australasyia.

When they were in power, all decisions were made on the basis of profit and those same profits invariably went to the beancountians. The people were badly looked after, the environment was polluted, there was unfairness at all levels of society. The rich got richer, the poor became poorer and only the beancountians were enjoying themselves. Because they like stuff like that.

They despised orginality. They worshipped copying. They thought if you haven’t done it before, how do you know it will work? Little rules were set up for everything. All daily tasks had to be done in just so a way and in just so an order. Cruelty, blame-labelling, penny-pinching ruled instead of insight, democracy and freedom of choice.

This went on for a long time. For years the country had been held to ransom and squeezed of it’s humanity by arguments that the only thing that mattered was the bottom-line and the only good decision was one that was sanctioned by the beancountians.

And the beancountians were very political. Paranoid. They looked around for people who might be against their values, who might be able to threaten their strangle-hold on power. They despised the marketarians, who’s values were very different to their own. They plotted and schemed to control the marketarians, to belittle them, to make their lives hell, to convert the marketarians over to beancounterism. They took any steps they could to ruin the marketarian cause.

It got so bad that the beancountians actually took control of the marketerians professional society – they put their men on the board and told those same men that they would give them board positions on other boards if they did things the beancountian way. They insisted that everything be decided on the basis of numbers and greed and that the things to instil upon marketerians were aspects of their own beancountian profession like measurement and process-management instead of inspiring things like self-development and environmental improvement.

They got the marketarians society to spend a lot of it’s own money on a bench-marking study that was designed only to instil more control and less creativity. Because creativity and the strategy that stimulates it, are the enemies of all beancountians.

The beancountians even had a magazine they published. It looked like the true Marketarian’s magazine, it sounded like the true Marketarians’ magazine, it even had articles which were like the true Marketartian’s magazine, only it was not as much fun. It was therefore not read much by real Marketarians, and was laughed about by the true believers.

Naturally, many members of the marketarian philosophy were angry about the demise of their profession, but the beancountians were in control of their very society – what could they say, what could they do? If they argued about issues that were not beancountian focused, the debate was shut down and their very membership of the society was threatened. Were they too good for the societies rules? Were they not prepared to toe the line? To match the ethics of the society? The rules, of being a ‘good’ marketarian (neatly adjusted by the beancountians as you know).

One day, after secret promises were made to each other, a small group of clever marketerians decided to wrestle back control of their lives and their country. They plotted and schemed, just like those nasty beancountians, and eventually took over one little company. Then another. Then an institution. They would buy up a few shares, get on the board and vote off the beancountians, (except for one symbolic book-keeper – there’s some things that are simply beneath a good marketarian.)

And, just as the beancountians had wrestled control from the people in this sneaky way originally, the marketerians gradually became relevant again. They began to get self-esteem back. They began to feel that their calling was important, that marketarianism was worthwhile.

Eventually the marketarians were in a position to challenge the beancountians in a vote on leadership for the biggest companies and institutions at their annual general meetings.

Because they listened to the people and insisted on saying the truth about the current conditions and painted the future as what the people wanted, the marketarians won hands down.

But the beancountians refused to go. As the marketarians now ruled all the important institutions, and they were at their very heart, fair-minded, it was decided to put it to a people’s vote.

The result was that the beancountians were given three choices. To be castrated from money. To be castrated literally. Or to have their personalities castrated instead. The beancountians all chose to have their personalities removed.

So every year, on Guy Fucks Day, the marketarians consciously fuck up something for the beancountians and a hundred thousand beancountians don’t find it funny at all.

Ever want to be a true marketarian? We could be. What’s holding us as a profession back from taking our rightful place at the centre of the circle?

Marketing is stagnant

We, as a profession, sit – a rudderless barge, too fragile and small for the open ocean; locked in a stagnant pool of self-loathing. Convinced of our own inadequacies, we accept our role as number two to the beancountians. We need to think about relevance. You see this at almost every company and institution in OZ. The marketers propose something, the bean counters either say no flatly, or make outrageous demands – making the marketers life hell (when have you seen an accountant’s idea require 50 pages of report? It’s not, it’s just accepted as fact; because they trust him/her) before a poor copy of the idea is accepted, usually castrated of its originality, and starved of funds.

I have been a member of the Australian Marketing Institute for some 3 or 4 years and got bugger all for it. I’m also a member of half a dozen other organizations, from chambers of commerce to clubs to similar professional groups and I get more from every single one of them than I get from what is supposed to be the peak body of our profession. What’s wrong with the AMI? What can we do to make it work for us?

We need growth

The accounting profession has two key bodies you can join. You’re either a CPA or a Chartered. These two bodies together manage some 100,000 members between them. There are far fewer accountants out there than marketers. Almost every business has more marketers than accountants. There are also many hundreds, if not a few thousand people getting a degree every year in Marketing or a related discipline that would see them logically becoming a member of the AMI. But they are not joining. The AMI could have several hundred thousand members. It has about 5,000. Let’s do something to pull it out of its doldrums.

Get women involved

A large percentage of marketing managers and other marketing professionals are women. I’d guess at 60% plus. Almost every account manager at most agencies is female. But there are far too few at AMI events. It seems a very male-oriented club. How can the organization attract more women? More interesting functions? More female speakers? More relevant services?

Engage and empower the youth

The AMI has to engage younger members of the profession. I rarely see people under 40 at AMI functions. The AMI needs a big influx of young people of both sexes. It needs lots more functions aimed at them and it needs to listen to their ideas and to change to suit their desires.

Give us value-adds

Where are the deals done for the members? Where’s the discounted cars, the free insurance, the lower mortgage rates? See the spread sheet for other occupation’s benefits.

Promote our profession

Do I have a badge to put on my car? A bumper sticker that says ‘Get a marketer to do it right?’. or ‘Want a finger on your button – get a marketer?’. A tie? A pin? A set of cufflinks? Earrings? What? Nothing?

Where are the TV ads pushing people to only trust a licensed marketer? The fricking plumbers society gets more promotion than we do. The Doctors have their own TV shows, and a lobbying group that would scare a herd of elephants. Where is our lobbying at federal level for more funding for our profession? Were we even represented at the 2020 summit?

A better name/Qualification?

Yes, there’s CPM, but you have to jump through hoops (come to this course for $1500 – it’s so many points. If you don’t, you can’t be a ‘professional’) just to stick a series of letters after your name that no-one has ever heard of. Who introduces themselves at a BBQ as a CPM? CPA’s do it all the time. Even the name is again copying the accountants, not doing something for ourselves.

Give us a better name than ‘Marketer’. It doesn’t work. People think you sell vegies from a stall. Inspire us. How about a title infront of the name instead of after it? Like Dr or Sir. How about Don Geoffrey? Kin Geoffrey? Yo Geoffrey?

What should we do?

  • Run the show like marketers (How would you expect lawyers to act – like lawyers?) Make decisions like marketers. Practise what you preach.
  • Get some funding
  • Research what the profession and public think – find out what it is the profession wants; touch upon the taboo subjects like our name and our professional status, do it with internal and external input and do it fast and water-tight. Get some insight and make decisions.

–       How do we want to be perceived?

–       How do we get there?

–       What will it cost?

–       Who’ll pay for it?

–       Benefits, distributed to whom, are?

  • Work out what stance helps the profession. A new game plan? A new name? A new set of values? A new symbol? A new professional marketing budget?
  • Get some more funding
  • Determine the best team & appoint them
  • Get the changes underway.
  • Go to Cuba for a holiday.

Fresh leadership

The main people at the head of the AMI have done a sterling job getting us this far, but like the entrepreneur who can’t take his baby past the $100m mark, it’s time to let some other people take over. Time they moved on and let younger, more in-touch, driven people get involved in leading us forward. The old grey mares need to go out to pasture. Can’t we get some energised people in there who can motivate, invigorate and lead by example?

Outcome – 2014

Picture this at 10.30 on a Tuesday night (Free to Air, Paid or Web) :-

“Tom Petrovski, thanks for today’s sharemarket comments. Now we’re switching to our resident Marketarian for today’s broader economic analysis – Touloa Abdoula – your comments on the crisis at Ford?”

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