Post-Modern Marketing

There's a quote I just love comes from an academic at the University of Ulster (Stephen Brown): "Marketers know about consumers, consumers know about marketers, marketers know consumers know about marketers, and consumers know marketers know consumers know about marketers."

It's that fun-house mirror of marketing that is terrifically interesting. We're all in the game and we're ready to game the system. In this model, the only brands that thrive are not those that rely on "interruption" marketing — i.e., in order to watch this television program, you have to watch my 30-second message — but those that are built intentionally by the personal involvement of users, think Google.

It's a fascinating mind-set. How does a brand grow. I'm not talking just creating buzz. We all know there are "buzz" agencies out there they force feed the conversation. No. I'm talking about the genuine article. Brands and products that we make our own and make them better as we go. Ipod. Starbucks. Who else? Any brands that you treasure that leap across the threshold of cynicism?

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5 Comments

  • C O'Neill

    We are not post-modern. THe post-modern ideal of "understanding the methods" is very 90's in the interactive media field. We are nearly at post-organic, where marketers will fade away into oblivion since people will "market" the products and services that they love for free - no one is going to push a "marketing company" video for Subway on YouTube (and when they try they get slapped), but I betcha that sales for Mentos and Diet Coke went through the roof....

  • MylesK

    It's easy to throw around the term post-modern without having a better sense of what it means, or how it's used. I tend to think of post-modern as the rejection of an authoritative voice, dismissal that a doctor knows all there is to know about medicine or that the government serves as our paternal architype there to support and defend us.

    And I think this was the case particularly during the emergence of the internet and World Wide Web during the '80's. Keep in mind this was when it seemed suddenly, after years since the near elimination of polio within the United States, we were faced with the HIV/AIDS epidemic for which doctors had no cure and lacked much of the basic info about the diseases. Tack onto that the following decade starting with a recession and with the emergence of the internet.

    This meant that we, as citizens about to form a near-global community, could publicize thoughts, discuss topics and share anectodal/scientifically supported information sans authority.

    But we're past the post-modern era, aren't we?

    The trancendence of knowledge of each other's perspectives (a double-helix of the "looking glass-model" as described in Stephen Brown's quote) shows that it's no longer a distrust or rejection of an authoritative voice.

    We've reached a point of symbiosis in yet a new form. (I don't have a fun catch-phrase for this. Perhaps someone will come up with one.) There's an understanding that marketing places an important role in subsidizing costs of accessing content, providing opportunities to express oneself, finding new talent and entertainment (i.e. American Idol).

    And what's more, we've moved past the old Bates idea of the Unique Selling Proposition (USP) that told users what they should think. We're now putting forth an idea and allowing users to define what it means to them along with the ability to share that idea with countless others(i.e. GE's Pen and ImaginationCubed.com viral applications).

    We need to include the inevitable re-shaping of of a "brand" by users.

    Sorry for the diatribe and typos. I had my Starbucks and listened to the Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" on my iPod while walking to Madison Ave this morning.

    "...meet the new boss, same as the old boss..."

  • roger fulton

    I don't about u, but everytime I read one of these, I want to cross my legs, sit up right and humm, sip, coffee on a street corner in rainy Portland, Oregon.

    Montra, please...

  • Colin

    Some that come to mind are: eBay, MySpace, Whole Foods etc. The common thread being the power of authenticity and community; both of which (I hope) should represent the future of commerce.