Pavlov’s Kisses

Big business marketers, being in the anti-rationality trade, see their targets not only as “targets,” but as animals-in-training.

Consider, then, this contraption, the Hershey Smile Sampler:

Hershey machine

This thing is installed in grocery store aisles, and dispenses a candy when somebody smiles into its facial-recognition camera. Part of a trend called “shoppertainment,” such devices boost brand loyalty to their owners’ wares. How much marketing data gets derived from the facial images of the creatures who salivate on cue remains to be disclosed.

Ad Age reports on the logic of the Dr. Pavlovs behind the Smile Sampler:

The kiosk took up precious retail space, but retailers loved it because it drove foot traffic and loyalty, and for a brand like Hershey, giving up space was worth it if it meant means getting people down the aisle and driving just one potential sale, said Mr. Jimenez. “If I can get more impressions at retail that’s extremely valuable for us, expecially in a category that [benefits from] unplanned purchases. This experience allows us to do that. Retailers even offered to give us more space because of the idea.”

Wild Blue Technologies, which worked with Hershey on the push, validated the effort by asking people to tell them if they’d come back and use the “smile” machine and technology again. “We’re talking about validating qualitative [behavior] and using tech for that,” said Steve McLean, president of Wild Blue Technologies. “They were giving us realtime feedback. They said, yes I’d make those 20 paces for this treat.”

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Where’s the Working Class, Bernie?

sweet_talkBernie Sanders’ disruption of Killary’s marketing effort is a pleasing thing. But, damn, the guy has such huge flaws. Not least of these is his failure to talk straight about the realities of social class.

Here’s what he says today to a NYT reporter:

“Ordinary people are profoundly disgusted with the state of the economy and the fact that the middle class is being destroyed.”

What is “being destroyed” for somebody in the middle class? Being sent back to the working class, right? And as that happens, what has been happening to that always-latter class?

One might expect a socialist who cannot (and should not want to) win the U.S. Presidency, who is there to change the terms of discussion and embolden the neglected masses, to point out that, as the credential holders slide, the working class is as much the majority as ever, and has been getting absolutely — and intentionally — raped since Day One of the ongoing Reagan Restoration.

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This American Life, Indeed

Ira Glass photo The latest recipient of the Hicks Dictum Award is that hugely over-rated antiquarian, Ira Glass, who has this to say about how he views his own output:

“I think we’re ready for capitalism, which made this country so great. Public radio is ready for capitalism.”

One might ask what makes Mr. Glass think PBS and NPR have ever been anything but subservient to capitalism, but that is a side issue. The main point is that everything Glass says is a turd falling into your drink.

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How They Sleep at Night

sleep One question raised by the nature of the totalitarian behavior management discipline that is big business marketing is how its practitioners live with themselves. Here is some verbiage from a comment on today’s Advertising Age site that sheds light on that matter:

“Everyone keeps talking about the consumer. But since when are ads anti-consumer? Ads can be pro-consumer. They can be wonderful, creative stories with an arc and feelings and resonance.”

The author of this revealing comment is (you can’t make this stuff up) one Scott Portugal.

Despite his own breezy justifications, the marketing practitioner is indeed bothered by himself, to the point of paranoia, in fact. “Everybody” is attacking his work.

Next, notice the convenient definition of advertisements. Ads, Portugal tells himself, are what they can be, and what they can be is inherently valuable stories. You know, like Beowulf, The Grapes of Wrath, or your favorite podcast?

And, of course, the real question for everybody not living in a state of self-imposed idiocy is since when are ads pro-consumer (and what the fuck is a “consumer”)?

The level of delusion here is simply spectacular. And, thanks to corporate capitalism, it is the bedrock of the planetary culture. We’re in huge trouble here, folks…

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Consumer Theater!

In the least surprising news possible, there’s a new form of marketing research. It is Consumer Theater, a new way of doing focus groups that is “a proprietary Firefly and Second City methodology.”

First off, a major Hicks Dictum Award to the moribund corporate-comedy shithouse, Second City.

Meanwhile, take a look. This is what “co-creating with the consumer” looks like. The role of “the consumer,” as always? To divulge more.

consumer theater

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