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May 25, 2010 10:44 AM   Subscribe

The Process will make you want to slap your marketing department. (SLYT)
posted by Cool Papa Bell (73 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Every single interaction i have with a major business, inside or out, is so incompetent and absurd that I wonder what demon magic they're using to actually make money.
posted by The Whelk at 10:48 AM on May 25, 2010 [21 favorites]


Can I get that stop sign in cornflower blue?
posted by Babblesort at 10:51 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


You had me at Partner Logos
posted by wcfields at 10:54 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


It takes far less than that to make me want to slap the marketing department. Far less.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:56 AM on May 25, 2010


Yep.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:56 AM on May 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


Every single interaction i have with a major business, inside or out, is so incompetent and absurd that I wonder what demon magic they're using to actually make money.

My theory about why people aren't just getting fired left and right is that people don't really want to solve problems as much as just keep things moving and justify their jobs and call the next meeting.

Nothing can ever end, or everyone is out of a job. The phrase 'continuous process improvement' kind of sums it up nicely. There's no actual point where anything is done, which is why it feels like nothing ever gets done, and why whenever there's a bit of white space on a schedule someone calls for a best practices document or just asks for a meeting about a problem that really isn't much of a problem but for some reason calls for six people to sit in a room together for a couple of hours "brainstorming".
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:56 AM on May 25, 2010 [12 favorites]


I work in a marketing department. After having seen this, I'm left with one question: Which is easier - self-immolation, a solid beam and a stout rope, or just a box of rat poison and a spoon?
posted by deadmessenger at 10:57 AM on May 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Which is easier - self-immolation, a solid beam and a stout rope, or just a box of rat poison and a spoon?

You're going to need a focus group.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:58 AM on May 25, 2010 [70 favorites]


I work in a marketing department. After having seen this, I'm left with one question: Which is easier - self-immolation, a solid beam and a stout rope, or just a box of rat poison and a spoon?

I would suggest a focus group. Or if legal doesn't approve, then perhaps a paper prototype.
posted by rocketpup at 10:59 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Every single interaction i have with a major business, inside or out, is so incompetent and absurd that I wonder what demon magic they're using to actually make money.

Brute force. Less the realm of dark wizards and more of a broadsword-wielding barbarian or endless invading hordes tactic.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:59 AM on May 25, 2010


I never liked llamas.
posted by rocketpup at 10:59 AM on May 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


I already wanted to slap my Marketing department.
posted by valkyryn at 11:00 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Demon magic? Stupid consumers who will buy whatever ON SALE shit is closest to them on the buffet rather than demanding a durable, quality, functional and well designed product. From this, it is elementary to derive a market of barely competent sellers churning out mountains of only marginally functional ugly, flimsy shovelware differentiated from its competition only by colour -- and by the kickbacks given to the distribution network.
posted by seanmpuckett at 11:01 AM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


I never liked llamas.

We're quite fast typists, considering our hooves.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:01 AM on May 25, 2010 [7 favorites]


Having said that ...
posted by mrgrimm at 11:05 AM on May 25, 2010


The female intersections are the ones you drive into; the male intersections are the ones you drive along.
posted by hippybear at 11:09 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


As you can see from the Look of Success at 4:05, they made the big mistake of trying out the prototype in Toronto. I'm sure it would have worked anywhere else.
posted by maudlin at 11:10 AM on May 25, 2010


Demon magic? Stupid consumers who will buy whatever ON SALE shit is closest to them on the buffet rather than demanding a durable, quality, functional and well designed product.

A sub-component to this is the erosion of leisure time. They want shit that's close to them on the buffet to some degree because if you're in Target and you need cereal, to pick up a prescription, a new bathing suit, milk, and a bicycle pump, you can get all of the above in one place. Shopping areas are decentralized and not walkable -- those errands would take a long time to run addressed separately.

Many families have two working parents and long commutes, and kids that are in a lot of structured activities because people have an overly developed fear of crazed maniacs taking their kids. So if you get out of work at 5, have to pick up the kids and do whatever else, and you have these little errands, you're also trying to get home at a reasonable hour. To-do lists in families get really long. Stuff has to get done.

Add to that a sketchy economy and readily available cheap foreign goods and it goes a long way to explaining why many of us have thrown out two or three bicycle pumps in the last five years, or why people accept clothing that lasts a year or less.

There are a lot of socio-economic and cultural factors that drive some of these choices, other than just being a bunch of dummies.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:13 AM on May 25, 2010 [17 favorites]


The female intersections are the ones you drive into; the male intersections are the ones you drive along.

The female intersections are the ones with all the tiny shoes.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:14 AM on May 25, 2010


I don't worry about the crazed maniacs. I worry about the highly focused maniacs.
posted by Babblesort at 11:15 AM on May 25, 2010


So spot on it hurts.
posted by brundlefly at 11:16 AM on May 25, 2010


Truth in Advertising
posted by brundlefly at 11:19 AM on May 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


"Can we make the logo bigger?" is the bane of my existence and will likely be the centerpiece of any psychological defense I may or may not have to present in the future.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 11:20 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]




Benny Andajetz: ""Can we make the logo bigger?""

Also, it needs to "pop" more.
posted by brundlefly at 11:21 AM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Struck enough chords that I'm now slightly nauseated. Sigh.
posted by aught at 11:25 AM on May 25, 2010


Whatever company I work for, I always make a habit to reading their marketing info about the product that I work on. 100% of the time, I have no idea what the hell the stuff on the website or on trade show pamphlets is talking about. And this is for a company that I work for and about a product that I help build. How the customers ever make heads or tales out of all that marketing speak and decide to buy our stuff is a mystery.
posted by octothorpe at 11:26 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Make Mine Shoebox
posted by Thorzdad at 11:29 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


In the same vein (although most mefites have probably seen it) Microsoft designs the iPod Package.
posted by Grimgrin at 11:31 AM on May 25, 2010


In fact I have seen that, Grimgrin, and recently.
posted by Mister_A at 11:32 AM on May 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


Damnit. That's what I get for not previewing.
posted by Grimgrin at 11:39 AM on May 25, 2010


Dammit, A Terrible Llama, we were all having so much fun getting our Marketing Hate on and you had to make a valid point...

And say hi to your brother Dalai...
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:53 AM on May 25, 2010


Approximately forty-five seconds into that video my heart started pounding and I started to feel a little bit dizzy. I'm not saying that in a ha ha that video made my heart start pounding and made me feel dizzy lol kind of way; literally and honestly my heart is pounding and I feel dizzy.

Apparently I have some... issues.
posted by ook at 11:53 AM on May 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


That is what makes it so cool to work for start-ups and small companies. In the early stages, marketing is a little cell in the organisms doing its job, it is creative and engaged and usually someone you can go out with and have a couple of beers.

Then it gets irradiated by the gamma rays of revenue and sometimes profit, and it becomes cancerous and metastasizes and grows big enough to absorb all the radiation.

The time to quit is the first time marketing calls a meeting instead of just attending and bringing the donuts.
posted by dirty lies at 11:56 AM on May 25, 2010 [17 favorites]


Whatever company I work for, I always make a habit to reading their marketing info about the product that I work on. 100% of the time, I have no idea what the hell the stuff on the website or on trade show pamphlets is talking about. And this is for a company that I work for and about a product that I help build. How the customers ever make heads or tales out of all that marketing speak and decide to buy our stuff is a mystery.

Usually the potential customer has a specific need that a certain class of product can fill. Your marketing material is supposed to be good enough to get him to understand that your product is in that class. From that point on its the sales force's responsibility to convince him that the product has all the specific features that he needs. I've had to try to evaluate enough products to know that absolutely no one reveals enough information in a freely accessible format to even come close to making an informed decision. If they put it in print they can't fudge the details or make expansive promises that can't be kept on the phone.
posted by rocketpup at 11:57 AM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I've had to try to evaluate enough products to know that absolutely no one reveals enough information in a freely accessible format to even come close to making an informed decision.

What an interesting and depressing piece of information.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:04 PM on May 25, 2010


I've had to try to evaluate enough products to know that absolutely no one reveals enough information in a freely accessible format to even come close to making an informed decision.
What an interesting and depressing piece of information.

If it makes you feel better, I was speaking mainly of software and IT systems. It might be better in the widget industry.
posted by rocketpup at 12:05 PM on May 25, 2010


It is the same in every other industry.

A couple of examples:

Contrast ratio in newer TV's, going from numbers in the hundreds to numbers in the millions to just making up new units of measurement over a couple of years.

Impossible to find out the real BTU capacity of newer stoves and ranges, specially the fancy glass top ones. And when they publish specs, the measurements are made in some magical wonderland that has nothing to do with reality. But I know exactly how they will make my crappy apartment feel like a celebrity chef's mansion by the sea.

I find myself buying more and more from small companies, usually US or Europe based, which are run by a couple of people and have only a handful of employees. The stuff is more expensive, the shipping time is more inconvenient, but this small companies take an open source attitude towards their processes and specs. The lack of a marketing department makes it harder to find them, but once you find them, don't let them go.

As an example, I buy aquarium chemicals from a small company that was started by a hobbyist and that has grown to have 20 or so employees. I asked them a technical question, and after a couple of emails I had the complete formula and process for making their stuff. Try that with any of the big companies, whose answers read like "This product will promote slime coat and eliminate dangerous toxins from the water using our proprietary HappyJoyfulMagical chemical bonding technology".
posted by dirty lies at 12:19 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]




I've had to try to evaluate enough products to know that absolutely no one reveals enough information in a freely accessible format to even come close to making an informed decision.

Believe it or not, that is often because no one in the organization...from the CTO, to the lead devs, to marketing, to the CEO...has any clue how to explain what their product is or does in any form that doesn't resemble a 200-page technical whitepaper.

Been there. Beat my head against its wall.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:20 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]



Believe it or not, that is often because no one in the organization...from the CTO, to the lead devs, to marketing, to the CEO...has any clue how to explain what their product is or does in any form that doesn't resemble a 200-page technical whitepaper.


I would love to have that whitepaper. Please send it to me ASAP.
posted by rocketpup at 12:23 PM on May 25, 2010


The marketing department at my last job actually promoted the purchasing of a service which, when actually used by the customer, incurred a net loss to the company.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 12:38 PM on May 25, 2010


Would it have killed them to come up with a sign that a marketing department would actually design? That thing is objectively hideous.
posted by ODiV at 12:40 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Weird, when I worked in marketing, it was all the executives that were driving the stupid decisions. We had to push back on their crazy, infeasible ideas and patiently explain what "white space" meant and NO WE CANNOT MAKE THAT FUCHSIA WHEN OUR BRANDING IS ORANGE.
posted by desjardins at 12:44 PM on May 25, 2010


Also relevant, Clients From Hell. Way more true than they should be.

I'd like to coin some snappy phrase for "A management person must always make one change or otherwise he/she would be admitting that you can do your job with out them."

I've learned the hard way. Never do you job perfectly the first time, even if the job should be very short and is needed quickly. If possible make 3 mockups. One obviously terrible, one that's not really any good, and the excellent perfect one. Explain how the terrible one is terrible, the excellent one is so excellent, and briefly mention the ok one. Now you've empowered them to "make the choice" and they can take some credit for themselves in recognizing the correct answer when presented to them.

Either way you're doing 3 times the work needed.
posted by fontophilic at 12:48 PM on May 25, 2010 [11 favorites]


Let me tell you how inept marketing departments are.

I used to work for a company we'll called AwesomeForce. I liked working for AwesomeForce, because it paid well, and offered a great deal of independence to how my colleagues and I worked. However, in a few months, a director was assigned to us, by AwesomeForce, to oversee our operations.

It is around this time that AwesomeForce, being told by the business side of their company, realized that it needed to do something to bolster morale. They held an essay contest based around the question: "Why do YOU choose to work for AwesomeForce?"

I pretty much ignored it, but a friend pointed out that there was a $1000 cash prize. And the answer was to be limited to 500 words or less. So right then and there, we worked on submitting our essays.

My essay, with a few minor changes to disguise identity, is pretty much as follows:

"Why do I choose to work for AwesomeForce? The answer is simple: as its name implies, working for AwesomeForce means working with a Force of Awesome people. Every day I go to work, there is a palpable feeling of Awesomeness in the air, as the members of our medical Force get to work. There are a lot of things we palpate during the course of our day, but to palpate some Awesome is Awesome.

Also, AwesomeForce works with the hospital, patients and community, thus spreading the Awesomeness and broadening the Force. I cannot claim to have any knowledge of the B2B or turnkey solutions of today's competitive business market, but I can say that the Force is all-powerful; one must never underestimate the power of the Force. Thank you."


Yeah, right. So months pass by. Three months, to be exact. I get an e-mail saying that I was the 1st prize winner. I think it's because they discovered I was Asian. Then they mailed me a $1000 check, which I used to finance a crazy and lucrative baccarat run in Las Vegas. Then, six months after that, I get another e-mail from AwesomeForce's marketing department.

They would like me to send in a photograph of myself to use in the company's quarterly newsletter. I said sure. I sent them a picture which had a decent head shot, and told them to crop out everything else. I said only use that part, and only for the newsletter.

A few months later, a colleague was reading a certain medical magazine in the physician's lounge and said, verbatim: "vhaaaaat de heeeekkk-k-k-k-k-k?" And showed this full-page advertisement, with my full photo spread across it, some band's t-shirt, and guitar, and they had inserted the words above my head: "I AM AWESOMEFORCE."

I immediately e-mailed them and said that it was not acceptable. I said that I will be contacting my attorney, and that they must recall all copies of the magazine and not use my image again for marketing. They agreed.

In the months that followed, AwesomeForce fell apart. A bunch of us quit. A few days before my last day there, their marketing department e-mailed me again, saying that they were so excited about the first ad run and its response, that they've prepared a second one for me to review!"

I was too tired to be pissed. I just e-mailed back: "Hey, guys. I dunno if you've heard, but I quit your company a while ago."


Then they found some other Asian dood to use in their advertisements.
Cocksuckers.
posted by herrdoktor at 12:48 PM on May 25, 2010 [16 favorites]


My theory about why people aren't just getting fired left and right is that people don't really want to solve problems as much as just keep things moving and justify their jobs and call the next meeting.

Absolutely. What's important is not whether or not your project succeeds. What's important is that you can point to a 30 slide Powerpoint presentation explaining why your project didn't succeed.
posted by JaredSeth at 12:49 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


'd like to coin some snappy phrase for "A management person must always make one change or otherwise he/she would be admitting that you can do your job with out them."

That's "a duck" - from this great Stack Overflow thread:
A Duck

A feature added for no other reason than to draw management attention and be removed, thus avoiding unnecessary changes in other aspects of the product.

I don't know if I actually invented this term or not, but I am certainly not the originator of the story that spawned it.

This started as a piece of Interplay corporate lore. It was well known that producers (a game industry position, roughly equivalent to PMs) had to make a change to everything that was done. The assumption was that subconsciously they felt that if they didn't, they weren't adding value.

The artist working on the queen animations for Battle Chess was aware of this tendency, and came up with an innovative solution. He did the animations for the queen the way that he felt would be best, with one addition: he gave the queen a pet duck. He animated this duck through all of the queen's animations, had it flapping around the corners. He also took great care to make sure that it never overlapped the "actual" animation.

Eventually, it came time for the producer to review the animation set for the queen. The producer sat down and watched all of the animations. When they were done, he turned to the artist and said, "that looks great. Just one thing - get rid of the duck."
posted by Space Coyote at 12:59 PM on May 25, 2010 [21 favorites]


Contrast ratio in newer TV's, going from numbers in the hundreds to numbers in the millions to just making up new units of measurement over a couple of years.

The first instance I can think of this is Sears' (and others) habit of talking about their power tools' maximum developed horsepower*, which occurred about the same time there was no longer a lifetime guarantee on Craftsman power tools.

Which is a technical term meaning "some shit we made up"
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:00 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


None of this is very new. Check out this piece from Communication Arts, 1963.
posted by PlusDistance at 1:02 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


rocketpup: "I would love to have that whitepaper. Please send it to me ASAP."

Please take a moment to register on our website with your email address and phone number. You will receive an email with a link to the white paper you requested and a company representative will contact you shortly to discuss any further questions you might have about our range of solutions.
posted by octothorpe at 1:08 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Cocksuckers.

Cocksucking is a perfectly decent activity enjoyed by many fine, upstanding citizens.

I submit that the term you're looking for is"shitheads."

posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:08 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


What? I use horses for all my drilling.
posted by The Whelk at 1:08 PM on May 25, 2010


A Duck

A feature added for no other reason than to draw management attention and be removed, thus avoiding unnecessary changes in other aspects of the product.


into any situation, insert a duck
posted by The Whelk at 1:10 PM on May 25, 2010




shitheads.

shitheading is a perfecly decent activity enjoyed by many fine oh never mind

posted by The Whelk at 1:11 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Would it have killed them to come up with a sign that a marketing department would actually design? That thing is objectively hideous.

I agree. The writing and performances are pretty good, but the final product is where the satire fails. They should have created something realistically horrible.

The marketing department at my last job actually promoted the purchasing of a service which, when actually used by the customer, incurred a net loss to the company.

That seems like a problem with product, not marketing. Or was it a loss leader, in which case they were probably doing what they were supposed to? ... Why else would you sell a service that cost more than it earned? Or was it a non-regular service that made money if not frequently used?

I gotta say, I must have been lucky to work with some decent marketing people. I've never had much interference in the product-development process. I have disagreed with decisions and been subject to some of the nonsense, but mostly lucky, I guess.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:11 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I submit that the term you're looking for is"shitheads."

A friend of mine once tried to convince me that term (along with "piece of shit") was racist. I'm still not quite sure if he was serious or not. I wouldn't agree, but I now lean toward "douche" or "douchebag" (or "Palin voters") because it's a funny word and it's also something bad for women (all 3!)
posted by mrgrimm at 1:19 PM on May 25, 2010


Within a few minutes of having watched that video, a design specification arrived in my mailbox that began with the following text: "Here is an updated version of the process queue which includes screens for the "stop" process flow."

I lol'd, and had to explain why, and now other people here are watching that video too.
posted by davejay at 1:28 PM on May 25, 2010


I LIKE CALLING PPL CHOWDERHEADS AND IF THAT IS WRONG WELL YOU ARE AN EMESIS BASIN
posted by everichon at 1:30 PM on May 25, 2010


I once had a client specify that he wanted two text bodies in a 4:1 size ratio. I gave it to him at about 1.5:1, and he said 'No no no. Like, really, 4:1! I want the bottom one really small and the top one really big!' So I actually made it so that the top block of text was four times the typeface size as the bottom block, and he got angry and said I was mocking him. I sent him back the 1.5:1 version and he said, 'Why didn't you just make it like this the first time?'
posted by shakespeherian at 1:52 PM on May 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Make the logo BIGGER (skip to 1:10)
posted by JDHarper at 2:08 PM on May 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


douchebags.

douchebagging is a perfectly decent activity...

errr. wait, I got it...

chowderbagging is a perfectly decent...

no nevermind.

posted by Cold Lurkey at 4:56 PM on May 25, 2010


I would really like to call someone a chowderbag right now. chowderbag chowderbag chowderbag
posted by Cold Lurkey at 5:01 PM on May 25, 2010


Contrast ratio in newer TV's, going from numbers in the hundreds to numbers in the millions to just making up new units of measurement over a couple of years.

Nearly all of the specs you see advertised for LCDs are completely made up by marketing and confer zero actual useful information as to the performance of the product.
posted by Rhomboid at 5:14 PM on May 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's fun to laugh at marketing depts - I do it all the time! - however until you have worked with a bunch of difficult executives, or people from worldwide who don't understand local conditions, products, etc and still get to make the final call, you're pretty lucky.

Also, the reason multinationals get all the work is - jokes aside - because their marketing departments are better, not just more money etc. but actually the level of professionalism is much higher. I say this having worked (mainly in comms, but in some marketing) for organisations ranging from 4 employees to hundreds of thousands. For example, I work for IBM now, and believe me, however much I get bothered, the competence, experience, creativity and stakeholder management I see every day is is orders of magnitude better than some of the smaller companies I have worked for, and the public service. I'm not saying all small companies are crap, but they pay a lot less typically, and one bad apple can have a disastrous impact. Multi-nationals can be full of bad apples, but it's still just a tiny percentage, and things still get done.
posted by smoke at 9:08 PM on May 25, 2010


No one said it better than Bill Hicks...

It took you that long to post that? You're getting slow, Internet.
posted by Rangeboy at 9:55 PM on May 25, 2010


Space coyote, this was originally known as the 'blue boat' in advertising circles and has been around for decades. I use the technique successfully far far more often than I would like to admit. Clients. Gotta love em...
posted by Jubey at 4:51 AM on May 26, 2010


A feature added for no other reason than to draw management attention and be removed, thus avoiding unnecessary changes in other aspects of the product.

There is a corollary to this method. To wit: Never show the client something you absolutely don't want to do. This is the option they will choose.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:01 AM on May 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


To wit: Never show the client something you absolutely don't want to do. This is the option they will choose.

Yeah, I'd be terrified to try the duck because then, hey, all of a sudden we've got a fucking duck on our logo.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:57 AM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


That would explain the AFLAC campaign...
posted by hippybear at 11:07 AM on May 26, 2010


I now lean toward "douche" or "douchebag"...because it's a funny word

No, no it's not. As evidenced by the fact that it's being used on dozens of sitcoms lately.

I'd say that precludes any chance of it being funny.
posted by JaredSeth at 11:20 AM on May 26, 2010


No, no it's not. As evidenced by the fact that it's being used on dozens of sitcoms lately.

It's true that it's acquired mainstream credibility in the past 5-10 years. That fact that it's being used on "dozens" of sitcoms means that it once actually was funny and now has waned.

Douche will wax again. D O U C H E

In fact, I'd like to coin the term "douché" if it doesn't already exist: an appropriate response to someone scoring an effective debating point in a dickish manner: douché.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:13 PM on May 26, 2010


Yeah, I'd be terrified to try the duck because then, hey, all of a sudden we've got a fucking duck on our logo.

Yup. Seen it happen too many times.
Of course, there's something even more horrifying than that. It's when you present the usual three options...and the client proceeds to Frankenstein bits and pieces from each option into one ungodly creation.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:17 PM on May 26, 2010 [1 favorite]


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