MEDIA: PERSPECTIVE; Why over-familiar marketing can be a massive turn- off

Say you met Rupert Murdoch for the first time. Or you knew him a bit. Would you call him Rupe? What about Terry Mansfield? ‘Wotcha Tel, how’s tricks?’ Over-familiarity is a turn-off, not to say bad manners.

Say you met Rupert Murdoch for the first time. Or you knew him a bit.

Would you call him Rupe? What about Terry Mansfield? ‘Wotcha Tel, how’s

tricks?’ Over-familiarity is a turn-off, not to say bad manners.



Reading about the new Tesco Clubcard magazine (Campaign, last week) -

there’ll be five versions and, armed with its knowledge of our

purchasing patterns, Tesco will pigeon-hole us into one of five groups,

selling different ads into each magazine accordingly - reminds me of the

over-familiar people who irritate me. If Tesco decides that I fall into

this or that category, it’s the equivalent of a total stranger calling

me Dom at a party.



And yet it’s hard not to be impressed by the technology that allows

Tesco to do this, or, indeed, to understand why it is doing it in the

first place. After all, this is the era in which marketers have a mantra

that they chant non-stop. ‘The best customer is a loyal one. We make

them loyal by building relationships with them,’ they drone, encouraged

at every turn by marketing gurus who write tomes that all begin with the

phrase ‘one-to-one’ and trumpet the end of mass media. ‘Seduce them with

special offers,’ they chant, ‘get to know them better, make friends with

your customers, make them part of our giant family.’ Yuk.



Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the theory. It’s just that I don’t

buy the way most advertisers seem to practise it and I reckon they’re

heading for a fall when consumers realise what’s going on. For starters,

I think that everyone who talks about loyalty marketing confuses buying

it (which is what most do) with earning it. And, frankly, a bought

loyalty isn’t worth the club card it’s credited to. Naturally, Tesco can

have my loyalty any day. But only until I get a better offer.



As for ‘relationship marketing’ (so Orwellian a term it makes me want to

throw up), come on, how often do you want to buy stuff from your

friends? Friends aren’t there to flog you stuff anyway. I don’t know

about you, but I don’t want a ‘relationship’ with my bank or supermarket

other than that they do what I want them to.



Now, where does this relate to media? First, one-to-one marketing

certainly doesn’t spell the end of mass media. Neither does it spell the

end for customer magazines. However, I think they need to be careful not

to oversell the sponsor’s products. More important, it seems to me that

advertisers must be careful not to hijack the relationship between the

medium and the consumer (and I do believe we have relationships with our

media). Equally, media owners themselves must be wary of developing

brand extensions into other areas - newspaper PEPs or magazine

merchandising - where they presume they can trade off their relationship

with the consumer. To paraphrase David Ogilvy, consumers aren’t morons,

and nor are they your friend, partner, lover or colleague. So don’t

treat them as such, especially if you want to sell them something.



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1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).