The problem of a marketer left to his own devices

Ryan Wallman
November 8, 2016

 

Last week, there was an article in Digiday in which the CMO of Pepsi said this:

 

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(Now, just in case you thought that creating ‘shorter’ work meant emulating Hemingway, he cited Pepsimoji – ‘The language of now’ – as an example. So perhaps ‘sillier’ would have been a better description.)

Leaving aside his almost certainly false claim that consumers’ attention spans have changed, I found the assertion that ‘no one is watching television without using a device at the same time’ to be the most worrying part of his statement.

Clearly, this guy uses a device (a phone, presumably) when he watches television. Equally clearly, the people he knows also use a device when they watch television. But to suggest that ‘no one’ does otherwise – no one! – betrays a staggering ignorance.

I can think of at least one person who has never ‘used a device’ while watching television – namely, my dad. Aside from the fact that he barely knows which way is up on a mobile phone, it wouldn’t even occur to him to ‘multiscreen’ while watching TV.

And it seems he’s hardly alone. Consider this, from new research by Thinkbox.

 

tv-marketers

 

So not just some but MOST people do not multiscreen while watching TV. To those who live in the real world, this would not come as a huge surprise. But evidently some marketers live in a world of their own (or Mars, according to Bob Hoffman).

Of course we’re all naturally inclined to make assumptions based on our own experience, but the job of marketers – including those of us in marketing communications – is to understand the people in their market. It’s kind of fundamental, really.

To understand your market, you need to do your research. But there’s the rub. Why would you bother with research if you think you already have the answers?

And that, perhaps, is why so much marketing fails. Too many marketers simply don’t know what they don’t know.

 

By Ryan Wallman, Head of Copy at Wellmark.

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