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Jul 2, 2021

Great Moments in Modern Marketing. Not.

A very special pre-Independence Day rant

By Ed Goldman

Today’s edition celebrates Two Great Moments in Modern Marketing.

1. As the 4th of July looms, it pains me to report that people who live in The Golden State aren’t eating enough apple pie. That’s the figurative conclusion of a new, absolutely useless study, conducted by the website Wallethub.com, that “found only four states with lower rates of patriotic sentiment” than California, according to a story in the Sacramento Bee by Zaeem Shaikh.

”Montana was ranked as the most patriotic state, followed by Alaska, Maryland, Vermont and New Hampshire,” the article further reveals. “New York was ranked the least patriotic state in the country. Other than California and New York, states ranked at the bottom were Michigan, Connecticut and Florida.”

Edgy Cartoon

Having a Banner Year

Is this as disturbing to you as it is to me? No, not the ranking. I refer to the consummate stupidity of the survey—the fact that someone thought of doing it, did it and then reported the findings.

I suppose it kept the marketing team at Wallethub.com busy:

– “Conceiving” of the campaign during late-night meetings that likely required putting up endless pots of very strong coffee and sending out for pizza, possibly twice, as the dawn came up;

– Assessing results of the “13 metrics” the group used to assess the data, including military engagement—i.e., how many people in the state joined the army, how many veterans per capita live in the state, “how many active-duty military personnel per 100,000 civilian adults and the share of the civilian adult population in military reserves;” and

– “Civic engagement,” which required only nine metrics for some reason (I suspect that four of the metrics found the whole project so idiotic they decided to take some mental-health days). Despite the sound of it, this has to do with whether people vote, not whether they stand up and yell at grass-roots meetings about building nuclear power plants and high-security prisons next door to preschools.

Left out of the results were two things: (a) California closed seven military bases, starting in about 1991, which possibly had an effect on how many active service personnel remain here; and (b) no marketing study can ever truly gauge the love people have for their country. Mine’s immeasurable.

2. Meanwhile, some marketing campaigns have everything going for them but self-awareness.

Take the case of the Maryland-based company High Techlending Inc., which sends me at least two notices each week stating that its “review” indicates I “may be eligible to refinance” my mortgage.

Looking for a Great Gift?

First of all, I refinanced it more than a year ago. This tells me that High Techlending Inc. may not be tracking its high-tech metrics in a high-tech way.

And that brings me to the central ironic point: Every notice I’ve received from High Techlending Inc. has been sent via the United States Postal Service—dispatchers of the low-tech vehicle scoffed at as “snail mail.”

Even if you haven’t toiled in the bowels of branding, mucked about in marketing or plundered the cesspool of selling, surely you can appreciate that a company whose name implies it’s a finance-forward one should rethink its messaging methodology.

After all, re-invention is as American as apple pie.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).