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Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Bud Light - Marketing is Overpowering the Act of Selling

In casting an accusing gaze, one cannot help but point a finger at the masterfully produced drama series, "Mad Men." Our present-day fascination and subsequent overvaluation of marketers find its root in the series' enthralling depiction of the golden era of Madison Avenue.

With the phrase "demand generation" gaining popularity, I must admit I remain at odds with its premise. I maintain that demand is not a construct, rather it's something to be unearthed. If anything, demand should be drawn in, courted even, not relentlessly pursued with aggressive targeting. Yes, I confess, I may be leaning toward the idealistic end of the spectrum.

This current wave of marketing strategies — the Bud Light campaigns, the Sports Illustrated tactics, the NFL endorsements — strikes me as exceedingly misguided. These marketers seem to forget that no malevolent entity is forbidding anyone from purchasing their Bud Light. There is no alien force barring individuals from any corner of the universe from indulging in a football or basketball match.

In essence, the world as we know it here includes each and every one of us, a fact too often forgotten.

Beneath the surface, we are grappling with a longstanding debate: the clash of "Marketing" versus "Sales". The scales are tipping dangerously toward the marketers, with their influence steadily expanding. These marketers, armed with reams of data, segment prospective and existing customers into categorized groups, then tailor their messages for each specific demographic.

Are we approaching a crossroads? Should we seriously contemplate a shift in our approach? Should we pluck these well-compensated marketers from behind their sleek Macs and thrust them into the realm of the everyday? Perhaps they ought to spend some time delivering beer to actual, tangible humans instead of crafting pitches aimed at CMOs?

Why not let the marketing director spend a day tailgating in the Lambo parking lot or lingering after a hockey game at the Pond? Maybe the editors of Sports Illustrated should descend from their ivory towers, pour a few rounds of Coors behind the bar, and see how many patrons request the WNBA game. What are their customers, the beer aficionados, saying about the latest swimsuit edition as they knock back a Miller Lite?

Marketers tout that "blue sells better than yellow," but let's face it, if your beer is reminiscent of watered-down cereal, you're not making any sales — though the norm seems to be shifting with folks now opting for brews even more unpalatable than BudLight.

In the past, marketers remained in the shadows, not directly interacting with customers. But with the rise of 'inbound' methodologies (essentially glorified order takers) and 'networking' (the virtual version of a chamber of commerce meet), they seem emboldened, assuming the mantle of business gurus who profess to know "how to sell" to the entire world.

What happened to the straightforward concept of creating a quality product and letting it stand on its own merit? There seems to be a darker undercurrent at play here. This extends far beyond mere beer or swimsuit campaigns, doesn't it? The ex-campaign manager who abstains from Bud and the staff at SI who've never donned a bikini suggests something more sinister, something whispered in hushed tones during late-night Zoom meetings, a force greater than any marketing department.

This leads me to pose a question: Has Marketing's manipulation of demographics mutated into a creation of stereotypes, or were they one and the same to begin with?

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