Home > Uncategorized > I thought I was too smart to be duped by marketing!

I thought I was too smart to be duped by marketing!

I’ve been practicing marketing communications for several years.  I have a bachelor degree in Business Management concentrating in Marketing, two certificates in related fields, 7/10ths of a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications, and countless hours of pro-bono mar-comm services to local politicians — certainly I’m far too media savvy to be persuaded by primitive marketing tactics.  A recent product placement by Orangina in HBO’s Bored to Death destroyed all grand thoughts of my intellectual superiority.  Thanks to this soda/juice/carbonated-bastard of a drink, I am now no better than the simple peons I’m trained to manipulate with buzz words, high res images, moving pictures, and catchy tunes.  It pains me to think that my beloved HBO has partaken in this injustice!

Bored to Death centers around a writer who cannot complete his sophomore effort and begins to moonlight as a detective to escape the reality of his failing career.  Quirky, nonsensical premise – sounds like a perfect Thursday evening show to me.  Ted Danson plays the central character’s mentor and boss – a marijuana smoking, man-about-town who is successful in the boardroom but a failure in life (i.e. three failed marriages).  Room for some hilarious character development — okay, I’m ready for the laughs now.  Yes, season one comes and goes and Bored to Death makes it into my permanent lineup of shows.  Once again HBO delivers off-beat comedy at its best.  All is good in the world, right?  WRONG!  Along comes season two’s premiere “Escape From the Dungeon”.

Escape from the Dungeon features Ted Danson’s character suffering from the budget cuts put in place by his new publishing company.  One of the fringe benefits to be slashed is the office supply of (yes, you guessed it) Orangina.  Ted Danson proceeds to deliver a brilliant speech on the wonders of Oragina. The plot carries on and the show ends.  I don’t think twice about Oragina, marketing, consumer behavior, my superior intelligence.   It’s simply goodnight and off to work in the morning or so I thought…

I should note that prior to this episode I had no awareness of the Oragina product.  Around 10:00 am, I visited my company’s vending machine like I often do.  I quickly scan the rows of flavored waters, juices, and sodas for my staple – an Orange-Mango Nantucket Nectur.  Suddenly my eyes dart back to the left and I can actually see Ted Danson cradling this very same Orangina bottle, uttering thirst-inducing adjectives.  It is 50 cents more than my established favorite and I have no clue what it tastes like – obviously I’m not going to purchase this product.  Why am I still adding coins after I reached Nantucket Necturs $1.50 price point?  Nantucket Nectur is E-3, not C-6!  C-6 is (yup, you guessed it again) Orangina.  At this point I’m still in denial and chalking my $2.00 impulse purchase to pure curiosity.  I crack the seal and the carbon releasing almost sounds refreshing.  I swallow my first gulp of Orangina and all is wonderful in the world.  It does taste like heaven, Ted Danson sure knows his stuff!

It is now 7:00 pm and I’m reading my consumer behavior homework.  The author is going on and on about brand awareness, inducing first trial, and the various sources of information search.  I sat amazed as I realized that in less than 24 hours I went through a complex marketing cycle in which I gained recognition of a brand (product placement), was marketed to (p.o.s. in the vending machine), performed a search for information (Ted Danson’s various descriptors), compared alternatives and attributes (Nantucket Nectur vs. Oragina), made a purchase decision, consumed a product, and made a post purchase evaluation.  I could not believe that I was duped into making a purchase decision based on a two-minute product mention on one of my favorite shows.  How dare they do this to me?  I’m a marketing professional, where is the respect?

I wrote this partially poking fun at myself  but it is amazing how susceptible we are to marketing messages even when we understand and practice the science of communications.  Every day we are bombarded with images and messages that manipulate and alter the decisions we make.  No man is safe, so please be on your guard the next time you watch Entourage or you may be driving an oversized, yellow, gas guzzling Hummer next week  while drinking Avion Tequilla and listening to Saigon’s newest album.  Well if you’re drinking tequilla while driving a Hummer you may have some bigger problems than marketing messages!

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