Tuesday, February 17, 2009


so yesterday i was contemplating the whole president's day thing, and was struck by the idea that there really is no true "market" for these types of occasions and other hallmark-induced holidays. (for my international readers, these are sort of like the bank holidays in germany, which occur, it seems, about once every 2 seconds, especially in the summertime or octoberfest season).

let's think about "markets," shall we? tom peters, in the original in search of excellence, which was a book in search of an audience until tom went out on a speaking tour and was so compelling in person that people bought the book in droves, said something to the effect of:

"the problem with 'marketers' is that what they really like to do is to play with numbers and draw nice charts, and they're really not concerned with listening to what customers really want, or think they want.... the truth is, a market never bought anything. people buy things."

and so, relative to my comments the other day about the people who are involved in hallmark holidays -- which people are in fact the market? the people who are presidents? or grandmothers? or secretaries? or are they the people who are buying the cards for these people? and who are those buyers? clearly, in the case of the latter 2 examples, we know that of course you're going to spring for a card for grandma on grandma's day lest you be boxed about the head and shoulders by she who bore you, or he who had to stand there while she bore you. and secretaries -- or to be entirely pc -- "assistants" -- well, that's obvious too. if you want those files, or your phone calls, or your calendar with the correct appointments vs. those with people who don't exist ... you'll come up not only with a beautiful, expressive card... but the flowers or gift cert as well.

but... presidents? is there anyone buying anything for anyone on this day (except for perhaps the $787B gift of the american people to themselves and the world? not to minimize that, by the way. some of my best friends are republicans and they think, naturally, that the stimulus is stimulousy, but i disagree. in fact, i think it's the equivalent of a giant traffic jam, involving, like 6 billion people, all of whom are out in the streets just sitting there and nobody's moving. just think... what if everyone started to move? all at the same time? in some kind of orderly manner, even? well, that would be cool, and if it happened in the economy.... banks would start lending to each other, and then people could buy houses and cars, and then the people who work for builders and auto companies could keep those supply chains active, and so on and so on and so on. it may never be like it was, but it can absolutely be better than it is right now, and i think there's little doubt that this package will help.)

ANYWAY, back to president's day. is there a market? are there people who are disposed to buy something on president's day? here's what i bought yesterday:

- a spinach salad for lunch
- a soda at 4pm

not terribly different than what i buy pretty much every other day.

so... i dunno. if the act of "market-ing" is all about bringing to the attention of people those things we think they should buy, and causing them to be pre-disposed to do so (my own definition) ... then something has been left out here on the marketing of president's day -- at least for me. i'd like to buy a president, sure -- who wouldn't? -- but given all the trouble rod blagojevich and roland burris are in at the moment, it looks like spinach salad is probably the better way to go.

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