Thursday, August 05, 2004

"Fusion" and Other Mindless Marketing

Over the last couple of weeks, I've had more than one reporter call
me about the term"fusion" that so many advertisers are using these
days. What does this "fusion" thing mean?

Nothing, actually, other than confirming the dearth of talent and
marketing ability in the advertising business.

The unfortunate demise of the advertising industry actually began in
the late 1970's, when everyone began suing everyone else, and those
left standing did whatever they could to escape any kind of
liability. Instead of leading the public, advertising and marketing
executives hid out in the shadows, quivering with fear until they
could find someone or something to blame so that their own ideas
couldn't get them fired.

They ended up hiring hack companies like Yankelovich and Faith
Popcorn, tweaks and geeks who purportedly gather data on values,
attitudes, lifestyles and trends. By the early 1980's, all
initiative was drained out of marketing departments. There were no
ideas, no inspiration, no leaders. Just "trends" on which spineless
managers pinned their hopes. Nobody could lose their job for bad
decisions anymore -- they just blamed everything on bad data.

Couple a complete lack of leadership with a bankruptcy of strategic
and creative ability, and you end up with what you get: TV spots and
print ads that leave you scratching your head and asking yourself,
"What the hell was THAT about?"

The "fusion" thing is clearly the latest advertising gimmick. Ad
agencies and clients alike are hopping on the bandwagon, the same way
they've been tagging everything aimed at 13 year old boys with the
word "xtreme". It's an old ruse, where the agency essentially
invents or exhumes some obscure term in order to add news value to a
product or service.

"Fusion" is to 21st century food what "natural" was in the 1970's.
Fact is that all food begins as natural. The public at that time had
no differentiation of what was UNNATURAL. Today, the claim of
"natural" has been so abused and overused that the Federal government
has had to step in and issue definitive guidelines - and you'd be
shocked to see what slips through as "natural" food.

I guess that while most of the marketing and advertising industry
lemmings continue to plummet over the cliff into the abyss, the
recent rise (and soon, the fall) of "fusion" products confirms one
long-standing notion that's as strong as ever"

If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit.

So keep at it, fellas. The clients are still buying it.


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