Friday, March 18, 2011

Lysenko and advertising. This is complicated.

Right now I am reading a book by Rachel Polonsky called "Molotov's Magic Lantern Travels in Russian History." It's pretty high-faluting stuff for a copywriter, but I digress.

This morning I read a section on the Soviet destruction of an eminent Soviet scientist, Nicolai Vavilov. (The secret to reading a book about Russians is to clear your throat every time you get to a name. That sound approximates the pronunciation.) In any event Vavilov was the natural scientist. He studied grains from an anthropological point of view to determine how to modify them to survive conditions in Russia. He was trying to solve--90 years ago, the chronic food shortages that still afflict that part of the world. For his work, which stuck to rigorous scientific methodology, he was the cat's pajamas in Russia, even earning a ride in Lenin's Rolls Royce.

Then along came a scientist called Lysenko and the madness of Stalin. Lysenko played into Stalin's dialectic that humanity can be shaped into perfection. Lysenko--a pseudo-scientist--believed something like this. If you put a horse in an environment with only high-leafed trees, the horse, itching to nibble on the leaves would grow into a giraffe.

The biggest difference in marketing today as opposed to even 30 years ago is that it's infected with MBAs. MBAs inherently believe that education trumps money. In other words, if you're really smart (as MBAs obviously are since they have MBAs) you don't have to spend money you can cogitate your way to success.

So, in a Lysenkian way we are buying the notion that people want brands as friends. That they want their conversations to be about brands. That people are resistant somehow to mass media. All these so-called truths allow marketers to be cheap. To not spend money and do the work it takes to get known.

In fact, while brands can deepen the engagement people have with them with apps and websites and facebook pages and tweets, very few brands have actually been created online (except online businesses.)

Cheap is as cheap does. A horse will never be a giraffe.


mary said...

to cogiate... are mba's that smart? or, to ask differently: what does a degree say about intelligence?

i do not have an answer to that, only more questions.

tweets and facebook happen in a detached reality. after all, you still have to buy and use the product to find out about the brand, the picture in your head, so to speak, being true. saying that, i believe that ads are and will be a way to communicate about product/service and brand. because there is just not enough time to engage with brands x,y, and z. how much of your time do you want to waste? what does it take to not think you wasted it......

george tannenbaum said...

I only meant MBAs operate on a simple premise.

You have to be smart to have an MBA. I have an MBA. Therefore, I'm smart.

Not what I believe. But what is, I think, believed.

mary said...

ha! yes, sure you are smart. your blog tells me so.

i think there are different forms of being intelligent and smart. if i look around, i see many people who i would just call stupid for their actions, despite their degrees. but this has much more to do with my beliefs i guess. now i sound very arrogant dont i. oh well...

Anonymous said...

One could also argue all creatives are creative by their training and career arc. Also wrong.