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When I hate Marketing

How could I hate marketing? Technically, I am in marketing, and I have done a lot of it throughout my career. I will say that give me an eye level view of the bullshit that Marketing peddles at times.

A concrete example is this picture, a snap from the corner Chevron station that I walk by every day on the way to my train. Marketing is often about bold claims, ones that are intended to catch your eye, to influence your behavior, to inform you of something you might not know or consciously realize.

This isn’t rocket science, but it is proven to work. Let’s deconstruct this particular piece of Mabushi1, shall we?

The bold claim, in red even states:

“It’s Proven”

Bold, simple, direct, but utter tripe. Proven by whom? Where’s the Evidence? Is there a study that is published? (no, there is no citation)

If you are going to boldly state that something is proven, the onus is on you to justify this. In a case like this, where the implication is backed by science, at a minimum an independent study should be referenced.

But that is not provided. No link, no QR code. Just take it on faith.

The next statement is just as dubious:

“No gas gets better mileage!”

Seems crisp. But what gas are they referring to? LPG, LNG, Argon, Nitrogen? Of course, we know that they mean gasoline, the refracted output of petroleum distillation. Ok, I will grant them that, but the mixing of implied scientific rationale and study, with a marketing statement seems to me that they should be precise in their verbiage. Of course, I realize that scientific jargon (or too much of said jargon) tends to turn people off, so this soft pedals it, with the implication that really smart science-y types who study this said so.

But what does this message really say? Does it say Chevron gasoline gets more miles per gallon that all other gasolines? You could be excused for reading the statement this way. Hell, it is certainly what the Marketing messaging people at the agency that Chevron employs wants you to believe. But it doesn’t say that.

A literal parsing of the words isn’t that Chevron gasoline provides better milelage than other lesser gasolines.

Rather is says that nobody has better gas. And that is true, because for all intents and purposes, the gasoline at this Chevron, and the 76 station across the street, and the Shell station about a mile away, and the Calgas (independent station a mile further away that is $0.40 a gallon cheaper) all have the same gasoline. It is beyond my purview to explain the pipeline, and distribution system for gasoline, but suffice it to say that all refineries put in their allotment to the pipeline, and as the end, each vendor has their own additive package that they add to what comes out of the giant tank.

So in short, this marketing sign is just telling us that Chevron is pretty much the same as all other gasolines. That isn’t bad, or good, it just is.

However, this is indeed Mabushi. And Mabushi is practiced because it works.


1 – Mabushi is a term I got from a fellow Product Marketing traveler, Tim Johnson. Mabushi, according to him, was the mashup of the words “Marketing Bullshit” in a form that would be slightly less offensive. I like it.

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gander2112
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Written by gander2112

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