The Dark Side of Marketing (a personal rant)

The Dark Side of Marketing

This article is a bit of a rant. 

I’ve been ruminating about this topic for weeks, and I have to admit I’m a bit hesitant about sharing it with you.

Yes, I know. 

I’m all about authenticity and telling things as they are, but the current situation is pushing my buttons so much… 

…that I’m even rethinking the nature of my work. 

This Covid pandemic Is having a lot of unexpected consequences in our lives. 

One of them for me is that I’ve been watching the news, way too much. 

After all, I live in the city in which the second wave Is hitting so badly that we ranked #1 in Europe.

The consequences?

We are under movement restrictions so I can’t leave the city -it makes me feel like Katie Bowman in the tv series “Colony”. 

And my lizard brain has been too revved up with all of it. 

So yes. I watch the news. 

And it’s making me angry. 

When the message feels off.

This is stirring up something in me.

Jung would say this is activating a complex. He’s right. I can see at least one: I don’t like to be seen as stupid nor part of the herd. (Hear my Sage and Explorer archetypes complaining.)

I have this gut feeling that authorities, at least in my country, have been lying to us…or not telling the whole truth.

But I’m not interested so much in how they have handled the crisis, only in how they’ve handled their communications and public campaigns: the messages they’ve shared with us citizens. 

In the beginning, we were told that we were safe, no need to worry about Covid. We’d have one or two cases at the most. 

In the meantime, I could see people in China wearing masks, whole buildings under lockdowns, and special brigades spraying the streets with disinfectant.

Something was off. 

There was this huge cognitive dissonance between what I was told and what I was watching. 

But hey, there was nothing to worry about in Spain -they kept saying.- Maybe China is exaggerating things a bit. 

The dark side of marketing

Then I started noticing marketing tricks in official communications, copywriting tactics in press releases…

And it dawned on me:

A marketing expert orchestrates all the communication campaigns. I can recognize the tricks.

Call me naïve, but I’ve never noticed that before. 

And it looked like the Dark Side of Marketing!

Is this my own shadow in action?

I started to feel veeeery uncomfortable.

“Why is this pushing my buttons so much?” -I asked myself.

Because what I do -personal branding- has lots to do with communication: what you say about yourself and your work.

Am I doing this?

Yes, I’m definitely using some of those tactics like:

…grouping ideas in threes. 
…repeating the same initial.
Look at my email sign-off line “To Your Purpose, Prosperity and Inner Peace.”  

What is ethical marketing? 

“Is marketing evil?” -asks Marcia Yudkin in her new book “No-harm marketing ethics“.

“Marketing is not intrinsically evil. It simply requires Conscience” she says.

What I say is this:
We need to have our own Jiminy Cricket on our shoulder while we craft our marketing messages, and talk about our work.

We can use our knowledge of marketing and copywriting to promote health, well-being, peace, sustainability. But it’s not just the intention behind the message that counts.

HOW you do it also matters. 

Ethics need to be guiding our words. 

Do we have clear guidelines about what is ethical marketing? 

I don’t think so.

Many of the things I’ve been taught about copywriting don’t pass the filter.

That’s why I’ve decided to weed out those techniques, (according to my own sense of ethics of course, which might be different than yours.)

And share my discoveries here.

I don’t have all the answers, I know. But I hope to open a conversation so we can bring Personal Branding -and marketing- to the Light Side.

In the meantime, you can read Yudkin’s book, and leave a comment below: 
-How do you feel about marketing?
-Are there any copywriting techniques that don’t feel good to your heart?

Let’s feel good about how we show up in the world.

With love