Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2005-03-01

Marketing and the Reconstruction of Values

I have written a lot about advertising and ethics. I have slammed numerous ads for their obvious objectification of women, mostly, or the way they misuse emotional connection to sell products. I am still standing firm - I do believe it is possible and necessary to bring ethics (dare I say, morals) into the discussion.

Marketing relies heavily upon other studies: sociology, anthropology, psychology, statistics, philosophy, etc. Coming from some, you'd think marketing invented the other areas of study, and not the opposite.

One marketing friend of mine, when asked about current trends, replied, "It's all about selling, Aleah. The trends may change - but it really is quite elementary. Don't make it harder than it should be."

I agree. Principles of marketing are amorphous. When people refer to marketing methodology, what they are often referring to is sociology or psychology - glamorously wrapped in new garments. Is selling just selling? I'm sure some would argue otherwise.

When someone challenges the idea of marketing's misuse, I am pleased. Pleased in the sense that people can and do figure out that - regardless of the promises - at the end of the day, it's about need or want, or both.

I want someone to really understand the need for our services. I don't want them to think that our designs will make them sexier or make them more lovable. Design has purpose. Design solves problems (as Rick will discuss later). Design gives presence. But I would never expect it to change your life in a spiritual or emotional sense.

I could say something grandiose about it - but I choose to bring my values (in this case, honesty) into my practices. That isn't esoteric. In fact, I'd venture to say that I don't want our services to give you spiritual or emotional meaning. (GASP!) I think the concept of meaning is grossly misused - precisely by people in this business. If the benchmark of meaning is set at using great shampoo or driving a certain car, that benchmark needs to be reevaluated.

This all sounds fairly negative - but it isn't. This is the beginning of a new consumerism, I believe. I do value our creativity; our team; our clients. I am always grateful for the rewards of doing a job well done. I recognize pride in work as in personal life. I witness client satisfaction with the product - and know that we did, in fact, solve a problem for their business or organization. This is a fantastic feeling - and an honest transaction.

I don't deny the fact that our society has become lazy - absorbing false messages about product without question. But there are small eruptions occurring all the time. Blogging is a great vehicle for this. Change is like pushing a boulder up a hill - it doesn't happen without the steady and consistent effort needed to push - but it can be done. Consumers will change. Marketing must change to meet a more informed, more vigilant market.

Are you ready?
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