Marketing: It's time to shape up for 2007

As we all struggle with our New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get healthy, I would like to propose a collective, public call for the marketing industry to shape up for 2007. After all, we’ve all had a little too much holiday excess: too much eggnog, too many dancing Hershey’s kisses, too many RadioShack commercials at too high a volume. Misery loves company, and it’s time for Marketing to get on the treadmill with the rest of us.Marketing has a gotten a little lazy, lately, don’t you think? I heard a Publix radio commercial on Christmas Eve boasting that the store would be closed on Christmas Day because Publix values its employees and supports family togetherness during the holidays. Well, I may be the precocious kid pulling the beard off this corporate Santa Claus, but 98 percent of businesses in America could claim the same gracious act. And, having visited Publix on December 22, I can vouch for the fact that its haggard employees more than earned a day of rest. With its sugary sweet soundbites, the commercial was like a gaudy holiday sweater: almost appropriate, but just not quite right.

And then there was retail! This holiday season, Macy’s copied Target’s whimsical red and white dazzle, Sam’s Club confused shoppers with high-end newspaper circulars featuring red satin coats and poor Big Lots went for the cheap elf/midget jokes. And don’t even get me started about the commercial with the woman’s old landline phone in a box – they were all the advertising equivalent of eating chips on the couch.

Yes, it’s time for marketing to revisit its glory days and squeeze back into its skinny jeans (and I don’t mean the Brooke Sheilds Calvins ads of the 80’s). I want marketing to get back into the best shape of its life, when it was jetsetting with Ogilvy, Burnett and PanAm back in the 50’s and 60’s before all the corporate bloating. It will involve a lot of work (true fitness always does), and marketers will actually have to find a selling premise instead of a series of pretty pictures or easy soundbites. After all, the famous Ogilvy and Mather claim that, “At 60 miles per hour, the loudest sound in a Rolls-Royce is the ticking of the dashboard clock” was found in an obscure technical manual. But THAT’S a selling premise. That’s something unique, something worth sharing – something worth getting excited about!

After a steady diet of holiday junk, I think we’re all ready for some marketing with muscle. Our campaigns just need a little toning up; our ideas just need a little tightening. It’s time for a whole new era of substantive marketing, and I’m right there in the gym with it!

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