Marketing, president, apocalypse – the good, bad and the ugly

4 minutes estimated reading time

Marketing, president apocalypse – what’s going on Ged? Years ago I used to write a periodic section on this blog: Good, Bad and the Ugly. I have been doing ongoing maintenance of this blog in the background and was inspired to bring this back after visiting old posts.

  • This time I looked at marketing, president, apocalypse. Specifically: Marketing as practiced in agencies and clients
  • A president represented in media because the run up to the US presidential election in November means things are pretty strange.
  • A fictional apocalypse – because global warming, COVID19, populism, Brexit and the rise of China under Xi Jingping

Good, Bad and the Ugly was originally inspired by my love of two magazine sections:

  • Wired magazine’s Wired, Tired, Expired – which used to be a great zeitgeist measure in a pre-brogrammer Silicon Valley. Back when the excitement of the new, new thing was conveyed through the written word and brave choices in neon and metallic inks with challenging typographic design. Wired, Tired, Expired inspired the spirit of where I wanted to go with it
  • UK motoring publication Car Magazine. Car was a pioneering publication. It invented the idea of a ‘car of the year’ back in the 1960s. As a spotty teenager I loved to leaf through its pages. The writing of the late great L. J. K. Setright who combined a love engineering and the written word in each of his articles. (Setright’s book The Designers is a particularly good read.) Beautifully photographed cars and adverts of luxury brands that I hadn’t heard of like Panerai. It was a heady mix of Esquire and petrol. I fell out of love with Car magazine as driving became less relevant to me. But the concept behind their Good, Bad Ugly classification of cars stuck with me
Long and short term marketing thinking. In the past decade Les Binet and Peter Field’s IPA based research, together with findings from the Ehrensberg-Bass institute have shaken up marketing. No self respecting marketer now doesn’t thinking about the importance of brand marketing. Last touch attribution. Performance (digital) marketers have used last touch attribution to burn marketing dollars at the altars of Google and Facebook for too long. Mark Read of WPP – whose ill-considered comments on digital marketing and ageism in agency life showed an extreme dose of short term thinking. It probably explains the WPP share price….
President Bartlet – The West Wing was a touchstone of political fiction for friends of mine who worked in public affairs. The West Wing captured the tension and excitement of a high functioning political machine. I had the pleasure to chat over dinner with Don Baer. Baer was a former Clinton staffer, whom the character Toby Ziegler was based on.

Bartlet also contrasts sharply with the bland Joe Biden and president Trump. Unfortunately neither of them have the kind of dialogue coming out of their mouths that Aaron Sorkin could provide Bartlet
While Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein’s book All The President’s Men is justifiably famous. Their second book Final Days captures the implosion of president Nixon and makes a more tragic read on a presidential administration.The House of Cards quickly went from being sharp biting satire that thrilled, to repulsion. The story built up on and created something new from original UK source material. But the show rested too heavily on the shoulders to Kevin Spacey as president Underwood. When Spacey’s reputation fell, so did the show. Robin Wright did a valiant effort to resurrect it which is worthwhile watching.
The Jackpot – in William Gibson’s books The Peripheral and Agency a key part of the plot line is the apocalypse. This is called the Jackpot. There is not one inciting incident. Instead the world is gradually eroded to just 20 per cent of its population. The causes are very familiar to us: climate change, pollution, drug-resistant diseases and other factors. Given that the world population is still heading upwards. The Jackpot is either a way off or still in its early stagesThe Atomic Wars – the atomic wars occur the back story of the Judge Dredd universe. The modern world is destroyed by the cold war going hot. Authoritarianism and large cities offer relative safety compared to the cursed earth outside.Avengers Infinity Wars / Endgame. Thanos has a malthusian world view. He unites the infinity stones, snaps his finger and half the universe’s population disappears. Endgame then tries to give it a happy-ever-after finish because Hollywood. Yes it conforms to the idea of an ‘end of an age’ but it just doesn’t feel that disastrous in the grand scheme of things

Marketing, president, apocalypse choices, let me know what you think in the comments section. More versions of the Good, Bad and The Ugly here.