“Those damn marketers.”

May 21, 2010

By Katy West, Associate Business Manager @ NYCA

Last Sunday, I decided it was time to purchase outdoor furniture for my back patio, so my roommate and I took a trip to the local Target Superstore. As we were strolling through the aisles toward the Patio Furniture + Garden section, I got completely derailed by the sight of softball equipment (this is normal). I looked at the bats, checked the weights and lengths and had wonderful memories of spending my summer days on softball diamonds. Then I saw something that caught my attention – a flowery, pink softball bat. My initial reaction was skepticism regarding the design of this particular piece of equipment. As someone who takes her sports seriously, I saw this bat as anything but! I vocalized this opinion and, unbeknownst to me, a passerby was listening.

This passerby was a very rugged man, about 70 years old, with one comment that struck me as hilarious and a bit thought-provoking. “It’s those damn marketers!” he said, “They’ve been manipulating us since the ‘50s.” After my roommate laughed at me, knowing where I work, and further encouraged the man to defame my career (jokingly, of course), we both talked about it.

As a “damn marketer” myself, I felt instantly responsible for the fact that a random consumer would so quickly place blame and guilt on the marketing industry as a whole. People are distrustful of marketing and therefore we need to be careful to be authentic in the minds of the masses. We must remain clear about the reason we are advertising in the first place: to sell a product that consumers need or desire.

Despite my initial reaction, that flowery, pink softball bat wasn’t an inferior product or object of poor marketing. It was merely meant for someone other than me. It was indeed authentic to the little girls and parents that purchase the bat because it is what these consumers desire. Hence the difference between marketplace choice and misfired marketing. As a fan of the former, I am also grateful for that anonymous consumer who reminded me to respect him. It’s a memory I’ll take into the conference rooms here each day.