Thursday, September 3, 2009

The future of.

One of the invidious trends in marketing and the vernacular is people and companies who claim a particular product or service is "The Future of _____________." I suppose some fast-food chain somewhere is promoting a filet o' scrod burrito as the "future of breakfast," and some cable channel is trumpeting a show where nubile young things eat insects on a desert island as "the future of reality TV."

BTW, if you google "the future of," you get 495 million results.

As usual, when the world zigs, I prefer not to zag but, more likely, to gag.

I happen to think what most people want from the future is the past.

I don't mean the past when knights were bold and a scrapped knee could lead to gangrene and death, I mean a past where many businesses and the products and services they proffered were a bit more user-friendly. For instance, the big win for a big box retailer like The Home Depot would be knowing customers personally and treating them like the fella who owns the local hardware store treats his customers. When you live in the community where you work, you're more apt to be friendly because people know where you live and can firebomb your house or kill your cats.

Assuming that economics dictate that a store like Barnes & Noble will never be able to afford workers who can actually read, technology and marketing communications that can simplify and enhance your book-shopping will be the killer app.

It seems right now that a lot of advertising agencies and marketers are looking to propagate the future of marketing. That future almost always involves production efficiencies and work-flow management systems and out-sourcing to worlds where anyone whose name isn't "Smith" has a name that's un-pronounceable.

As the late Senator Sam Ervin used to say, "I'm just an ol' country lawyer," (this prior to his going in for the kill during the Watergate hearings) but today too much advertising starts with: "How can we make this cool for the judges" rather than "how can we make this useful for the customer."

1 comment:

Teenie said...

Ah, the almighty judges. Imagine if doctors did everything to win the Stethoscope Awards. "Ah, if we put his arm where his leg should be and maybe insert an extra eye here, we'd win Gold for sure!"

There was a local used bookstore here about 10 years ago that had a little old man behind the counter who knew everything--where every book was, where in the city to find a copy, what else the author wrote, you name it. They closed him down to make way for a congress centre, and now all we have are the big chains--where minimum wagers either sigh profusely or are still on break.