Natasha Roberton, Senior Creative Strategist at 50 Crates
The way Australians savagely sledge each other with shady nicknames is a source of great national pride in this country. I mean, you’re literally no one until you’ve been anointed a moniker you absolutely cannot stand. At the cricket we taunted champion Sri Lankan bowler Muttiah Muralitharan with ‘Chucker’ and thanks to Chris Lilley’s once vice-like hold on our cultural imagination, we now call every red-headed friend we have ‘Ranga’.
But it’s in the field of politics where we really flex our creative muscle. From our first PM Edmund Barton—christened ‘Toby Tosspot, to Barnaby Joyce’s ‘Beetrooter’, Peta Credlin’s sly ‘Mr Harbourside Mansion’ diss at Malcolm Turnbull, Kevin07 becoming ‘Kevin O’Lemon’ and Tony Abbott’s ‘Mad Monk’, we have a long and storied history of taking the piss out of pollies by anointing them with names they loathe.
So, it was just a matter of time before those wags at The Betoota Advocate would coin a corker forAustralia’s current PM, Scott Morrison: aka Scotty from Marketing. An allusion to Morrison’s former stock-in-trade, the nickname has been out there in the wilds of the Twittersphere well before the country was engulfed in flames over the Christmas/New Year break. But it was this perfectly crafted meme that really caused it to rocket into the public consciousness:
It is, on so many levels, a breathtakingly brilliant take-down of a prime minister that’s increasingly viewed as all style, no substance. A guy that’s quick with a smirk, but slow to display empathy. A flim-flam man with a consent-proof handshake. I admit it, along with much of the rest of the country, I very much enjoyed the joke.
Last year, global research powerhouse IPSOS asked almost 20,000 people from 23 countries which professions they trusted the most. I’m happy to report that scientists, doctors, and teachers were rated the highest. I am pained to say however, that Australians rated ‘advertising executives’ the least trusted profession—lower than lawyers, bankers, and yes, even politicians.
I’ve spent twenty-*cough*-something years working in marketing and creative roles—and while there are definitely days I wonder whether the world needs another ‘purpose-driven’ campaign for cat food—in the main, helping consumers discover brands that ‘fit’ with their needs and self-identity has been a fairly rewarding career.
But if I’m honest about where the industry is at these days, there are plenty of signs that marketers (and the advertising execs that enable them) are doing plenty to deserve the scorn that’s heaped upon us:
Ad pop-ups, email address gateways, dark posts, click-bait headlines.
OMG JUST STOP.
While interruption is a standard marketing practice, especially online, the teensy-tiny response rates almost never justify irritating the crap out of the people you most want to influence. Try interrupting your boss every 60 seconds, see how far that gets you. You wouldn’t do it. So, why do we subject consumers to it?
Ads and offers that over-promise what the product can do have been around since the dawn of commerce. The term ‘snake-oil’ entered the lexicon as a metaphor for deceptive marketing thanks to a 19th century tonic that contained literally no snakes and was mostly just turpentine and red pepper.
Sadly, there are still plenty of deceptions in marketing these days. From Volkswagen’s ‘dieselgate’ emissions scandal, to Australian banks selling advice to dead people, to the deliciously schadenfreude-inducing debacle of Fyre Festival, consumers have plenty of reason to think that what marketers and advertisers say versus what we actually do is just a load of horseshit.
Much like Scotty’s unwanted handshake, we have a tendency to really creep people out. Make the mistake of typing the word ‘haemorrhoids’ just once in your search browser and be stalked across the internet by haemorrhoid advertisements for the rest of your life. People’s discomfort with this kind of tracking behaviour has led to the rise-and-rise of search engine Duck Duck Go, cookie-blocker Privacy Badger, a vast plethora of ad blocking platforms, and even Google to come out and say recently, yeah, we might have overdone it a bit.
Then there’s that old adage: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the problem is, I don’t know which half.” This tends to really upset marketers, partly because they’ve been fed this line that only metrics matter. Lots and lots of investment has gone into digital marketing where results can be tracked in real time. But what results? Have we spent too much time and money focusing on vanity measures such as Likes and Shares and not enough on creative and storytelling that builds the complex memory structures needed to make brands easy to recall and therefore to buy? (Answer: Yes. Yes, we have.)
So now that we’re all #ScottyfromMarketing and the joke is on us, what’s to be done to restore our good names and this noble profession?
First, we need to be brave and honest with ourselves. Our job is not to stalk, trick or cajole customers into doing business with us. Our job is to be relevant to them and available to them.That’s it. That’s the whole ball of wax.
Relevance springs from really knowing who you are and what you can be for the customers you wish to serve. That takes deep self-reflection, an understanding of the culture in which you operate, and a willingness to shed those things you do that hold no value to consumers.
Availability comes from brand resonance.Whether it’s an ad, an offer, or a compellingly crafted piece of content, is it cutting through? Does it spark joy? Is it punching you right in the feels? Because people are barely paying attention out there, and your number one job is to build a brand that’s resonant and meaningful to them.
Now that we’ve diagnosed the problem, we can work together on the solution. With effort, patience, and honesty, I believe we can move up the ranks to...second or third least trusted profession by 2021, and perhaps our long national nightmare of #ScottyfromMarketing will finally be over.
Natasha Roberton, Senior Creative Strategist at 50 Crates
Image: Getty Images