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marketing b.s. detector

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"Marketing B.S. Detector" cartoon


Marketing has always been a little full of it and there are many forms of marketing B.S.  Ironically, the more that brands push to sound “authentic”, the more these efforts can come across as fake.

YUM! Brands CMO Ken Muench oversees global marketing for KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell.  He has a particular pet peeve about brand purpose. He recently told MarketingWeek:

“Brand purpose truly is a bunch of crap, because it’s disingenuous. You’re saying, ‘My purpose is to make the world a better place’. No, your purpose is to make money…

“What I rally against is training marketers to use ‘purpose’ as a way of defining and marketing your brand. It often leads to very fake communication that belittles any real effort companies are trying to achieve.”

With so many brands sounding off on the same issues, most purpose-driven marketing is not only not resonating; it’s not cutting through the clutter.

A 2019 study from DoSomething Strategic found that 58% of younger consumers would be likely to buy from brands that support a social cause, yet only 12% had top-of-mind associations (unaided awareness) between brands they knew and their causes.   Providing a list of social causes (aided awareness) only increased these associations to 24%.  

Marketers need to cultivate a B.S. detector at least as sensitive as the customers they’re trying to reach.

Here are a few related cartoons I’ve drawn over the years:

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“If marketing kept a diary, this would be it.”

– Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs

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