The snake oil salesman is alive and well

They used to be called mountebanks, charlatans, snake-oil salesmen or simply confidence tricksters.

But now they run companies called Ouch! or Connexshuns or Orange Toad or something similarly fashionable and fatuous or, even worse, they’re Marketing Journalists.

What they all have in common is that they pontificate profoudly on marketing and advertising but have never actually had to sell anything in their life. And they therefore come out with stuff that sends the bullshitometer crashing into the red zone.

I made the mistake of idly glancing through a supplement to The Guardian this weekend  (“Superbrands”, whatever they are) which was rammed with pretentious statements by a choice selection of these self-proclaimed gurus.

Here are a few of my favourites…

“Heritage brands reign supreme for consumers, while virtual consumption gains pace in the business world”.

Virtual Consumption?  Eh? Sorry, new one on me. I read the article and was none the wiser. Is it imaginary customers buying pretend goods with hallucinatory money? Or just people visiting websites? No idea; but I do know the piece was written by a nice gel called Lucy. Which came as no surprise at all.

Here’s another one from Ms L: “In times of austerity consumers often revert back to what they know and trust, to find a sense of security in an otherwise mixed-up world”.

What on earth is this poor woman talking about?  Clearly she’s so posh she’s never actually met anyone suffering an attack of austerity.

It isn’t about some crazy, mixed-up world, dear. It’s about Not Having Enough Money To Buy Stuff. But then the lovely Lucy writes for The Guardian so she’s probably never met anyone suffering a bout of austerity in her life. Or a nasty case of consumption, virtual or otherwise.

But this is a cracker:

“With service organisations, consistency of the customer experience is critical to the strength of the brand”.

Riiiiiiight. So you’re saying, correct me if I’m wrong, that a service company needs to provide good service in order to be successful. Fascinating. What a brilliant marketing insight. No wonder this chap is, I kid you not, a Professor of Marketing no less.

And last but by no means least, a woman who works for an outfit called Contagious (told you so) says: “Disintermediation was the marketing industry’s buzzword of 2012”.

No it wasn’t.


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