Let this article be our little secret
I’ve heard that talking about politics or religion in a family gathering could be detrimental to the enjoyment of the already forced engagement. Well, I want to add Marketing to the list. Here’s my intimate account:
Last night, as we were celebrating a family event, the conversation turned to a healthy discussion on guerrilla marketing. Conversations are not labeled, but as a marketing professional I’ve found the way to identify marketing in every conversation and tie it to my career. The subject in question was the recent incident during the Champion’s League (soccer) final, when a model jumped in the middle of the field wearing a very revealing outfit. This was not the first time they did this, the model was promoting an X rated site called Vitaly Uncensored, just like his boyfriend did back in 2014 World Cup Final, according to sportbible.com.
The conversation turned to other examples of ambush marketing, and then shifted to what companies do to leverage their competitors, and because conversations in real life do not follow a perfect pattern, somebody brought up data privacy, and everybody started defending their positions in a very passionate way. Consensus was that data is personal and companies should respect their users, and give them the option to be targeted.
I recited that companies collecting data are usually providing a service that is apparently “free” in exchange of something. I usually diverted the conversation to the now old premise that if they didn’t want their data to be collected they needed to move to a cabin in the woods, and resort to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Even by closing all the social media accounts, I declaimed, you are leaving a digital footprint, when going inside a store, when swiping your debit card, and let’s not even get into credit scores, and companies like Equifax, where you don’t even have the choice of opting out; that is if you want to be part of the system. From credit scores we jumped to China using social scores and punishing citizens with low ratings.
The conversation got dense, and I believe it could have gotten out of control, if it wasn’t because of one honest confession from one of the guests. His words were simple, and it was right after I mentioned that people complained at the beginning when Instagram started pushing sponsored ads in their feed, but then they got used to it. He said that he had to confess that he likes the ads that he sees in Instagram. He even seemed happy talking about how well Instagram targeted to his needs, and that he truly liked most of the products there. He was not naive, he knew about his information being collected, he just didn’t care. He wanted to see more cool products, and even mentioned that he was going to start following more art and music, to see what products they will recommend.
Earlier that night, we talked about politics. We were trying to reconcile the idea of how is it possible to support progressive ideologies while living in the US, and despise progressive socialist ideas while living in Latin America. Turns out it’s possible, and after a lot of philosophy we thought that maybe the reason was because, although these things shared the same label, the cultural disconnection gives the word a different meaning… There is a big difference when people argue about a topic because they have heard or read about it, and when they have experienced it.
When the guest in the party mentioned that he liked Instagram Ads, something change. Hearing somebody so close to everyone there, providing that perspective, gave us the ability to reconcile the ideas of those who thought that data collection were “evil” business practices and those consumers that thought that the practice was beneficial to their needs.
He knows he’s being targeted, and he appreciates it. After he mentioned that, others in the room opened up, and started talking about positive interactions they have had with targeted ads.
In the end, there was no wrong or right answer. We are always in search of reason, but most of the time we are in search of being right. We are arming ourselves with experiences and theories to build the arguments that will help us when trying to prove our point of view.
Confirmation biases and echo chambers are all around us. We all do it… and I confess that I’ve started paying more attention to those that argue and back their arguments with experiences. Observing what people do and not what they say they do is what data collection is all about.
Just like in our little politics and marketing conversation, once in a while you will find that person that admits enjoying being targeted by Instagram ads. I was happy to see one, and share his point of view. He was talking from his experiences, and not repeating arguments he had read somewhere.
It was a great night, and we defied the rule that “thou shall not talk about politics and religion in family gatherings”. Not only that, I’ve added marketing to the list, and I’m ready to listen.
In that night, everybody was assuming a marketer role during the discussions, but because they knew I’m completing a Master or Science in Marketing at FIU, they would periodically turn to me for my educated opinion.
As I was driving home, I realized that in their eyes I am FIU, and just like that, I discovered that I am also a soft marketing tool that boosts their brand recognition, creates buzz and spreads the message by word of mouth… and you know what? I like it, and I’m proud of it.
OH! BEFORE I FORGET!
About the model publicity stunt during the Champions league final… yes it worked. It happened on June 1st in Madrid, and it was still being discussed 6 days later… this time in a little gathering in Miami.
And if you want more facts, check this information from business expert Darren Rovell twitter account: $3.97 million: Value, in equivalent advertising time as of 5:30pm ET, garnered by Vitaly Uncensored, an adult site featured on the clothing of streaking model Kinsey Wolanski.