Target markets really are a pain in the arse.
You would think that you could just come out and tell people the facts about your product, drug or treatment and they would weigh up the benefits and then make a decision based on the facts presented.
No flim or flam, no marketing baloney. No manipulation.
The thing is, we have reason to suspect that medical people are much like ordinary people. That is, their perception of certain drugs etc differ from reality as much as it might in the real world with consumer products.
It doesn’t really matter if your glucose meter is more accurate than the most popular one. If it’s more expensive people will just hear more expensive.
It doesn’t matter if your pill is as fast working as an injection. People just hear pill.
It doesn’t matter if your drug is more efficacious than the best selling one but the side effects make you grow horns on your forehead. Those stupid, petty, pedantic, twatting, people just hear horns, it’s so frustrating.
But the good news is they are also as easily manipulated by spin, media tricks and perception as anyone else.
Luckily for we evil admen the task of persuasion is made considerably easier by the use of clever ideas, imagery, film and even words, (when we’re allowed them) because most of the time we are battling not to get the facts across but to manipulate people’s perception of the facts.
In recent weeks I have been amused how this is just as much a problem for personality brands.
Take Russell Brand, (coincidentally) who seems a particularly well meaning sort of a chap. You probably think of him as the comedian and whacko political campaigner who has told people not to vote.
He did let that slip in the Newsnight interview with Paxman in a certain context but what he more keenly urges is ‘give us something to vote for’.
This is from his Spectator article that started it all.
I have never voted. Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites. Billy Connolly said: “Don’t vote, it encourages them,” and, “The desire to be a politician should bar you for life from ever being one.”
I’ll grant you it may well amount to the same thing but ‘don’t vote’ isn’t particularly what he is trying to get across.
What he mostly tries to communicate is The system is broken.
With Russell, the right wing media don’t have that hard a job in manipulating his brand-image to be a radical idiot that’s not worth listening to, based on that one quote alone.
In the interest of balance it’s not just Russell Brand who struggles with this perception vs what he actually means issue.
Take Brand’s Question Time nemesis: Nigel Farage.
In the league of misrepresentation Nigel is rather more like Russell than either of them would be comfortable with, I am sure.
The headlines of ‘Nigel Farage says breastfeeding mothers should be put in a corner’ makes him out to be a horrendous chauvinist boob-Nazi.
Take a look at the twitter backlash that followed after his LBC radio interview, particularly the last comment.
But the actual interview on LBC from which the storm erupted was a perfectly reasonable suggestion ( to my mind anyway) that each establishment should decide for themselves- ‘he has no problem with it’ – (yes folks he actually said ‘I have no problem with it’) but if a particular establishment does – as freedom is a two way street – then maybe set aside a room or ask mums to sit in a corner because some people get embarrassed by it. (The context was lost on the Guardian but hey, they have an agenda just like the Sun or Daily Mail.)
For the left wing media the job is just as easy to paint him as a fascist idiot. Pick out that one line and the job is done whether you think anything he says is worthy or not. It’s hard to be taken seriously on border control if mothers, who hate being in corners, hate you.
However, as political brands they both have their art direction correct.
Saying dumb things in a smart suit will always get you taken more seriously than saying smart things in a ripped T-shirt.
But then, if you want to encourage a revolution don’t wear a tweed suit and have sensible hair.
In the end, if you are in the public eye your brand stewardship has the same problems as any other brand. Misrepresentation, poor PR, superiority or inferiority to competitor brands, price and image.
And we, the great unwashed, are constantly being manipulated and marketed to whether we like it or not and whether we are aware of it or not. From expensive ad campaigns to your ‘friends’ on Facebook who constantly provide evidence for you to think a certain way because they do.
The only way to not be manipulated is to look at the data and make up your own mind.
And what a terrible idea that would be.
(Happy Christmas dear reader and thanks to all of you have read my ramblings and kept me encouraged to continue, since I started this lark. Until January then….)