There’s Lies, Damned Lies, And Then There’s Marketing


I just fell for some clickbait on Facebook titled ‘Enjoy your transgender bathrooms. We just lost America.’

Whoa! Hold up: Ronald Reagan’s been dead almost 12 years and we just lost America last week? Because some man-ladies want to pee sitting down in a public restroom? That is a Bold statement! We must have it good as a nation when the Rosa Parks of our generation has a Y chromosome she doesn’t want us to know about. It must mean we’ve progressed so far that we’ve run out of huge problems to deal with. This article better be good…

But of course it isn’t. The blog is heavily invested in politics and every few paragraphs are parenthesized by ads. Their tagline proclaims the site to be ‘The hub of conservative thought’. Never mind that Milton Friedman had nothing to do with this ‘think-piece’ and nowhere is the site endorsed by the University of Chicago Economics department.

The writer’s seething with anger about a whole range of institutional maladies:

“We say we hate what Democrats have done to the country, so we elect a House and Senate full of Republicans who proceed to also place THEIR heads up their collective asses as well. It seems as if both parties forgot what they were supposed to be doing and whom they are supposed to be representing.”

and sees weakness all around him:

“I’m angered to see that we live in a country where we have gone soft. We’ve become hypocrites, and we’ve become pansies.

We forget that our grandfathers stormed beaches to protect freedom. Instead, we demand that the freedom now come in the form of a shelter from hearing words we don’t like.

We flip out because our $7 coffee comes in a red cup.

We cancel concerts and cost people jobs because we don’t agree with a law that the people of the state passed.

We care more about protecting where someone can take a leak than we care about the safety of our children. OUR CHILDREN.”

At the bottom of the article was a link to the author’s webpage, a screenshot of which is above.

“Ideas are garbage, Execution is everything.”

Did Ben Franklin say that? No. This guy is a marketer who’s writing a thought piece whose only purpose is to divide and enrage us and make us feel insecure about the state of the union. Why? Because vulnerable, emotionally enraged people are temperamentally more likely to buy things to stave off the feeling that they’re alone and the world is falling apart.

Almost 100 years ago, a ‘thought leader’ in marketing named Edward Bernays had an idea that launched 100,000 marketing campaigns. He realized that selling directly to the customer was not enough. A marketer had to create a world in which a product was desirable. Arouse emotions, excite aspirations.To sell encyclopedias, houses should have bookshelves built into them. To sell eggs and bacon, it should they advertised as the consummate breakfast food, healthy and hearty way to start the day (he sold us that idea. Eggs and bacon are good at hour of the day).

To have a job that’s predicated on manipulating emotions is questionable in itself, but to write an article lamenting the divisions politics and American life with the intent of further rupturing those same divisions is diabolically cynical. Perhaps we haven’t progressed so far that we’re now only dealing with hypothetical problems. Instead, I’d say that our public discourse had been hijacked by cynical idea mercenaries. They fill us full of outrage, set us apart from the crowd, and play to both sides. An idea is garbage unless, I must assume, it moves product.



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