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IMG_8600 Virginia Slims ad: We've come a long way, baby

I love Madmen. But man, do I hope those days are gone for good: the women-doing-the-typing thing, the drinking, the smoking and yes, that kinda marketing. The marketing whose goal first and foremost (and often, only) is to increase sales even if those sales are killing people (directly or indirectly).

I hear there was a mild brouhaha at this years Barcamp in Vancouver. I can imagine it, a bit — I still remember when twitter went mainstream and the sense of despair that this space for open, real conversation between people with a point of view but without something to sell, was now going to turn into one more friggin’ “channel”. Some people can get pretty twitchy about these things (and sometimes, I can too).

Don’t get me wrong – I just paid for a whole bunch of radio advertising, so I don’t have a hate-on for marketing per se. But I hope it transforms from the inside out.

I hope marketing transforms into a place where marketing is about listening, I mean really, listening, as much as telling. I hope it turns into a way of taking values of us ordinary joes and adapting business accordingly so that we can feel good about the companies we buy from (think: organic, free-range, non-toxic, free trade, women-friendly).

As the prescient ClueTrain Manifesto put it (excerpt only):

  • Companies can now communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance.
  • Companies need to realize their markets are often laughing. At them.
  • Companies need to lighten up and take themselves less seriously. They need to get a sense of humor.
  • Getting a sense of humor does not mean putting some jokes on the corporate web site. Rather, it requires big values, a little humility, straight talk, and a genuine point of view.
  • Companies attempting to “position” themselves need to take a position. Optimally, it should relate to something their market actually cares about
  • .

Here’s hoping!

ps: for a kick-ass example of great marketing, including use of social media, just get yourself entangled with ING. They are Rocking this space is an authentic, transparent way… and helping us all become savers to boot.

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. Kate

    I find WestJet to be an excellent example of a company doing it right. They’re not talking down to their customers, but rather trying to foster a warm relationship, both offline and on (Twitter, web, etc).

    Then again I don’t fly with them often, but when I do, I enjoy it.


    nancyzimmerman Reply:

    I’m a fan of westjet too, @Kate – in fact, I bought their stock early on and that in turn helped me buy my gastown condo 🙂 I’m not as enthralled with them as when they first started, but on the whole I really appreciate their down-to-earth approach and yes, they are using social media quite nicely as well.


    Nov 23, 2010
  2. Your post reflects the complexity of the current debate. When others tout the death of advertising/marketing, it’s sexy (read: sensational) but simplistic.

    Truth be told, advertising isn’t going anywhere.

    In fact, “Advertising expenditure will increase by over 4% worldwide in each of the next two years, with TV, social media and mobile all enjoying strengthening demand” (see Global advertising spend to grow, Oct. 19 2010 on warc.com).

    But even as an advertiser, that doesn’t mean that I’m keen to see our Twitter streams flooded by promoted tweets or self-serving posts masquerading as “engagement.” And that goes for both big corporations and private citizens intent on building their brand.

    And yet, I like being able to poll my followers to see which events my org should attend, who they want to hear from and about what topics. I also like being able to advertise on Facebook—it’s a relatively cheap means of reaching my audience so I’m being responsible to them and to my balance sheet.

    This is an ugly transition.

    We can’t run advertisers off the social media landscape. But I’m confident that those too stupid to adapt will weed themselves out of the debate, leaving the rest of us who are eager to listen and respond still standing.
    @tbains´s last [type] ..My First Last Barcamp Vancouver


    Nov 23, 2010
  3. My corporatization of social media — Twitter, particularly — has gotten me re-engaged. I have had a Twitter account for a while, but it had been dormant for a while. When my board of directors encouraged me to use Twitter for marketing, I started up again.

    But the funny thing is, now that I am drawn back in I don’t just use it to sell. I talk to people about things unrelated to business, and hopefully contribute in a small way to the non-commercial dialogue. But it was the commercial that got me there.


    Nov 23, 2010

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