Lady Gaga and Mother Teresa

Lady Gaga and Mother Teresa – world class marketers!  That’s what a column in the latest edition of The Economist [that I’ve read, at least] declares.  This struck my fancy, especially after my earlier blog about Lady Gaga’s marketing, because if you include Richard Wagner, or Adolph Hitler, who, whatever else he was, was a superb marketer of himself, and a whole range of other individuals across a range of occupations, it becomes clear that marketing is merely a tool.

Now… most people would say, “Duh… that’s not rocket science… or even close.”

And they’d be right, but what most people don’t get are the implications behind that finding.  The right wing fiscal conservatives believe in unfettered markets, with no regulation, or as little as possible, while those on the far left believe that no market can be trusted in any way at all. In effect, the “pure” free market types believe that a free market is a moral instrument, and even if they deny that phrase, the fact that they refuse to believe in controls and regulations declares that, whether they’ll admit it or not, they believe the free market to be “moral” or to behave in a moral way.  On the other hand,

It’s no surprise that those on the far left declare unfettered capitalism as immoral, and requiring a heavy dose of regulation to cub its “immorality.”

Yet in practice, superb marketers know how to use the tools of marketing to sell anything at all, as noted in the Economist column. That “anything” can range from Nazi propaganda to pop music to greater faith in a deity.  Especially in a technological society, marketing is merely the tool, a means to an end.  If the means of marketing are unfettered, so is what’s sold and how;  if they’re too tightly restricted, commerce grinds almost to a halt, and you end up with a police state and a black market as the only market with a semblance of economic function.

And what’s the point of all this?

The point is simple.  Because marketing is a tool, and a powerful one at that, it needs to be handled like any other system with great power – with the kind of safeguards that prevent its abuse while not destroying its very effectiveness.  One of the principal reasons for the economic meltdown of several years ago was the effectiveness of real estate sales people, lenders, and investment bankers in selling what amounted to flawed and unsafe products to people without the ability to understand its implications. In addition, as more and more evidence has shown, significant numbers of lenders and investment banking firms engaged in shady, and in many cases, illegal actions in granting and processing these mortgage loans. 

What’s absolutely more appalling and horrifying is that little has been done fundamentally to deal with such problems, and that investment bankers continue to rack up multi-multi-million dollar bonuses for continuing the same sort of practices and behaviors that led to the last crisis… all of which definitely suggests that “free” markets do not, by themselves, engender anything close to moral behavior, that, in turn, suggesting the need for better and more effective tools in governing the U.S. financial system.

 Just remember, every superb marketer believes that he or she, and what they’re selling,  is the best thing since sliced bread, and that includes Adolph Hitler, Lady Gaga, and Mother Teresa.

1 thought on “Lady Gaga and Mother Teresa”

  1. Robert The Addled says:

    Its funny in a way that you posted this today. I just listened to a Youth Radio story on NPR during my drive home that touched on marketing. A bit on the how (EEG vice focus groups- makes me think of the rez-marketing mentioned in Archiform Beauty) and on how they are punching the stuff that people react on for shorter ads/commercials with a bigger punch. They did follow up with a psychologist (mother of the reporter) and brought up the key point that what you decide to do AFTER the ads get into your head is what matters. Unfortunately for society – VERY FEW people are ever taught critical thinking and analysis skills.

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