Meet the ghost of marketing future: $200b for growth
Not that we’re comparing marketers to Scrooge, but the allegory of a crossroads from A Christmas Carol fits well with where marketing is today.
- December 2012
- By Jonathan Gordon and Brian Gregg
Turn on your television this time of year and chances are good you’ll stumble onto Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Believe it or not, that got us thinking about marketing, and how Dickens’ ghosts provide a good frame for looking at marketing’s role 12 years into the 21st century.
Not that we’re comparing marketers to Scrooge, but the allegory of a crossroads fits well with where marketing is today and the challenges of proving marketing return on investment (MROI).
Dickens used the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future as a cautionary tale to show how the past informs the present and how, with foresight, one can have the opportunity to sow the seeds for a brighter future. For marketers, the narrative differs but the same moral applies.
The Marketing Ghost of Christmas Past would not have to travel too far back to find a time when companies depended on marketing to drive growth and marketing relied on creative to deliver it. Ad-men, the good ones, were viewed as shamans.
Remember “Plop plop, fizz fizz” and “B-O-L-O-G-N-A?” Who else could get you singing about antacid or deli meat? Those jingles made Alka-Seltzer and Oscar Mayerhousehold names and every company wanted a piece of that kind of marketing magic.
For those of us in marketing back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the formula was simpler: big campaigns (The Pepsi Challenge) across one or two marketing channels like TV or radio, in a predictable media landscape (three television networks), with similarly reliable audiences.
As the ad business went, so did marketing, and industries beyond consumer products rushed to build out marketing departments. Unlike say M&A or operations, marketing and creative were considered more subjective and less measurable — yet critically important. But so long as people were buying, absolute precision wasn’t quite so critical.
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