55,235 Market Segments

According to ProPublica, Facebook now provides its clients (read: corporate marketers) with the capacity to target 55,235 different interest groups, on which FB also collects heaps of outside reconnaissance via so-called data brokers. Per ProPublica:

The categories from commercial data brokers were largely financial, such as “total liquid investible assets $1-$24,999,” “People in households that have an estimated household income of between $100K and $125K,” or even “Individuals that are frequent transactor at lower cost department or dollar stores.”

Big Brother was an amateur.

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HGTV More Important Than News

stuffed house Thanks to its superior deniability and ability to deliver Pavlovian treats, market totalitarianism works infinitely better than its state cousin ever has or could. Stalin and Hitler would be purple with jealousy at how well corporate capitalism obtains compliance from its subordinate classes.

With this in mind, ponder the fact that, as reported by Advertising Age, “[t]he escapist appeal of looking at other people’s beautiful homes turned Home & Garden Television into the third most-watched cable network in 2016, ahead of CNN and behind only Fox News and ESPN.”

The basis of this ascent is the sponsored worship of one of the core products of corporate capitalism’s sales vector, the personal residence:

Nikki Justice doesn’t seem like she’d be a big fan of HGTV’s show “Property Brothers.” A first-year astronomy and physics major at Ohio State University, she’s never owned a home, let alone flipped one. But her parents watched regularly, and now Ms. Justice tunes in several hours a week to watch one home transformation after another.

“A lot of the news these days is really stressful,” she said. “HGTV is not something that’s going to hurt me. I watch it and dream of what I want for my future house.”

So does Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, who recently said that he prefers HGTV to ESPN. Taylor Swift shared on Instagram her affection for HGTV’s “Fixer Upper.” And Hillary Clinton said she likes “Love It or List It” and “Beachfront Bargain Hunt,” calling them “relaxing, entertaining and informative.”

CNN is itself a deeply defective product, as explained by Joseph Heath. But the fact remains: In the year 2016, HGTV is more important in the mental sphere of the United States than the supposed flagship of information about collective affairs. Note to the grandchildren…

It makes me reach for my Jacques Ellul:

As advertising of the most varied products is concentrated, a new type of human being, precise and generalized, emerges. We can get a general impression of this new human type by studying America, where human beings tend clearly to become identified with the ideal of advertising. In America, advertising enjoys universal popular adherence, and the American way of life is fashioned by it.

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Marketers Don’t Get It

snake Scott Goodstein, CEO of Revolution Messaging, has an op-ed piece in today’s New York Times. Mr. Goodstein, who fancies himself a rebel and sees his work in helping reduce politics to marketing as somehow liberating, says “[i]n future campaigns, Democrats will need to devote even more resources to social networks than they did in 2016.” So, yeah, wow, very deep, Scott.

Meanwhile, Goodstein asks us to “Imagine if Mrs. Clinton had ditched the script, the teleprompter and the overproduced videos and posted a cellphone video telling America that she was fired up on an issue.”

Earth to Scott: Not only was/is Mrs. Clinton mega-obviously not fired up about anything but her own social climbing and power-seeking, but what, pray tell, would be left of her without all the political marketing? Again, mega-obviously, the answer is “nothing.”

Your industry — political marketing — is, despite your self-serving fantasies, inherently and fully part of our mounting crisis. Telling better lies is not the way forward.

It takes this kind of cluelessness to do what Goodstein does, despite it all.

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Don Drumpf as an Object of Shame

As usual, reading the big business marketing press is more helpful than most regular journalism. Seems that the main cause of the unusually big errors in the marketing research tools used to conduct and predict the gigantic 18-month marketing operations we perceive as political elections was the fact that a significant number of Drumpf voters are ashamed of themselves:

How did so many pollsters get the presidential election so wrong? The answer may involve shame, some of which belongs to research organizations themselves.

The other part of the shame belonged to Trump voters, many of them unwilling to admit, particularly to live human beings on the other end of the phone, their plans to vote for the president-elect.

That was an effect that Trafalgar Group, a small Atlanta-based Republican-affiliated polling firm, began noticing during the Republican primaries. So it developed a system to counteract the effect. Trafalgar started asking voters not only who they planned to vote for, but also who they thought their neighbors would vote for. The latter percentage consistently came out higher number than the former, said Robert Cahaly, senior strategist.

“On a live poll, the deviation was that Trump was understated probably 6%-7%, and on an automatic poll it was probably understated 3%-4%,” Mr. Cahaly said.

Quite comical and telling that the elite hacks running Brand Klinton seem to have utterly missed this aspect of reality in their pathetic efforts to peddle an even more pathetic product.

The answer to the errors, as always, is to better reduce politics to marketing:

Political polling may be more closely watched and higher profile, but in many ways it needs to catch up with brand market research, said Simon Chadwick, founding and managing partner of Cambiar, a consulting firm for market-research agencies and their investors.

“What’s happening increasingly in marketing is that survey research is being used to complement other forms of data,” he said, be it transactional data, social-media listening, ethnography or neuroscience. “People increasingly are synthesizing those other forms of data,” he said, “but in politics it doesn’t seem to have happened.”

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Hillary as Brand

worst Advertising Age, which named Barack Obama its Marketer of the Year in 2008, is digging through the Wikileaks DNC revelations and reporting on how Hillary Clinton is being managed as a corporate product. Suffice to say, this is not a small topic behind the scenes. Here’s a little snippet from a very long dialogue about the Klinton campaign’s logo design:

We have a gift in the Hillary Rodham Clinton brand because of massive recognition/awareness. Obama did not start with this. At the same time we must create a new, fresh view of that familiar brand in a truly authentic and compelling way.

To be clear, a logo can communicate and aid attribution of qualities, but it is not a proxy for the messaging of the campaign until they are relentlessly connected and delivered, repeatedly and consistently. That’s when brands take on meaning.

Rousing stuff, isn’t it? Our grandchildren will surely thank us for attending so diligently to the epoch’s burning core question of “when brands take on meaning.”

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Disaster Marketing

bud-water Capitalism thrives, as classically observed by by economist Joseph Schumpeter, on “creative destruction.” Naomi Klein has commented on how the system’s love of wreckage includes things like war, natural disasters, and anthropogenic ecological crises.

Witness, this week, the shipment of more BudWater, the latest effort of beer oligopoly AB InBev, the current manifestation of the former Anheuser-Busch corporation, at “creating marketing magic in difficult times.” Does anybody believe that this firm, which so ostentatiously played the 911 card, is shipping Florida a few trucks of water for altruistic reasons? Dollars to donuts (this is admittedly a bit of a dated quip) the national ads are already being filmed, if Hurricane Matthew does its part and creates enough newsworthy suffering.

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