Tag: marketing

Concerns About Defunding

A friend asked why phone bank organizers have been encountering liberal suburbanites who are concerned about the ‘defund the police’ movement. Why? Branding! Republicans are particularly good at it, and Democrats are stunningly bad at it. The de- prefix connotes removal and privation. They should use a re- prefix for the “again” connotation instead — reimagine, renovate, even restructure. It’s more difficult to come out against a positive-sounding slogan (think of the difficulty the BLM opponents have). I can explain why the death tax was a good thing, but I’d have to get someone to sit for ten minutes and listen to me. Someone advocating removing inheritance taxes just needs to yell “death tax” really loud. Saying ‘defund the police’ lets someone else say ‘save the police’.
 
And that encounters a problem of personal perception. There are a lot of people who are lucky enough to only encounter police as helpful public servants (or at least the pleasant/helpful experiences far outweigh the unpleasant one, creating the ‘few bad apples’ argument). Directing traffic when a tree fell across half of the road, cruising by when I was the only car in a park on Tuesday afternoon then letting me borrow a phone because I’d locked myself out of my car and my phone in it, coordinating the effort to return runaway cows to their field while the owner was on holiday, double-checking that my car seat was installed securely, getting in touch with the local business owner whose music was still blasting at 2AM because the employee cranked the outdoor sound system for closing tasks and forgot to shut it off when they left, providing road condition updates in the winter, letting me stop by and ask questions about the car-seat / booster seat regulations in a two-seater automobile, feeding and sheltering the dog someone found running down the street until the owner could stop by the station and pick it up, helping push the cars off to the closest car park after an accident, swinging by my house when a few motion detectors started going active while we were out of town for a weekend, alerting residents that a power line was down / truck in the ditch / multi-car accident on the main road, getting FexEx to stop delivery for an elderly neighbor who was rung up by Great-Nephew Timmy who needs bail money (cash of course) sent to this Nigerian prince (maybe I’m mixing my fraud, but you get the idea) thus returning the chap’s money. That last one? The Police Chief offered, for anyone rcv’ing such a call, that an officer would happily ring up the other police department, confirm the charges, and verify the appropriate way to send bail.
 
Those are all things I know about the Township police having done in the five years I’ve lived in my current house — many for me personally. No, you shouldn’t assume everyone else has your experience; but your personal experience will inform your beliefs. And I’m happy my tax money is used to offer these services within the community.
 
Now, if you tell me that you want to restructure the police so there’s not an armed response to pretty much any of those scenarios? That’s a perfectly reasonable idea. Or, from a fiscal conservative’s standpoint, that it would be more cost effective to have some less-credentialed response unit available for non-dangerous situations. Certainly some police action should be eliminated. I used to get stopped just for driving into the “bad neighborhood” in my “nice car” as part of the perpetual war on drugs, and that’s about the nicest race/class profiling interaction you’ll ever hear about. But I’m also fairly unique in my social circle in that I ever had bad interactions with police. I call this the ‘few good apples’ problem — even when someone is aware of systemic problems and abuse, they want to save the good apples that they’ve personally encountered.
 
There needs to be a pithy phrase that conveys “You will still have someone to ring up if the home automation system says there’s motion in your house while you’re all out at dinner. But you’ll also have someone with mental health experience to ring up when grandma has a manic episode and is brandishing a large butcher knife because she happened to be slicing up a watermelon. You’ll also have someone with social work experience to ring up if your teenage kid runs away from home.”
 
Because, fortunately or unfortunately, the general public aren’t going to take half an hour and read through a nuanced proposal to address the issue (nor are they apt to put more time into understanding the extent of the problem than the videos they’re encountering in their FB feed). They’re *going* to judge the situation and solutions based on slogans.

Marketing Fail

I find it ironic that the Republican, who brought us marketing campaigns such as the “Death Tax” which would cause Paris Hilton to pay taxes on her hypothetical inheritance but didn’t mean jack to 80% of the country seems unable (or, more likely, unwilling) to effectively market pandemic response.
 
Social distancing is a horrible phrase that speaks to isolation. OK, you don’t congregate in one big lump of humanity at the beach or discotheque. Why isn’t figuring out innovative ways to interact a national pursuit? Physically distanced social interactions — either online or in person. A few decades ago, I had friends who would all get on a call to watch a movie or TV show together. Start writing letters again (help out the post office, too). Back in March, when the lock-downs started, I surprised a lady at the grocery store by helping her look for her parent’s preferred type of coffee as I stood on the checkout queue. She didn’t have to get near me, I didn’t have to get near her, but the “social distancing” campaign had her thinking “head down, don’t talk to anyone”. We’ve got patio chairs set up under the big maple tree in our front yard. Two families sitting 10′ apart can easily converse, hang out, enjoy nature, etc. Putting chairs on either side of the fire pit is about 8′ apart too.
 
Then there are the masks. Social trends have convinced people to wear all manner of wild kit. There’s no way it couldn’t have been presented as some awesome fashion trend. I’m curious if it’s *masks* or *orders* that the non-mask wearing public finds so objectionable. Like, would they be down with wearing a confederate flag mask? What about helmets — we can dress up like astronauts, scuba divers, motorcycle riders. I introduced my daughter to pandemic safety by calling it the zombie apocalypse. It’s fun to get the masks and gloves on to take the recycling down the the drop-off point where she stands guard in the car watching for zombies. Or get a superhero cape and mask, adopt a secret identity. Not something I recommend when it’s 95 degrees … but when it cools off again, pretend you’re a less murder-y version of the invisible man with the head wrapping and sun shades.
 
The Republican promotion of preventative actions reminds me of the court-ordered PSA commercials that tobacco companies air. They have technically said what the court has ordered them to say, but there has been no attempt to engage the audience. Or attract attention. White screen, black text, monotone voice-over repeating what the text says.

On Socialism

“People like things that socialism gives us, but as soon as you *call* it socialism, a lot of people stop liking it.” — this is one of the biggest problems I’ve seen in modern politics. Medicare recipients, for instance, demanding the gov’t keep its ‘hands off’ *their* Medicare. Not sure if that’s ignorance and people actually don’t realize these things are government-provided or the whole cognitive dissonance thing where someone just cannot reconcile decades of anti-Soviet fearmongering with “it’s not a bad thing to ensure old people don’t go bankrupt dealing with an illness”.

The Democratic party has a serious branding issue — Republicans manage pithy phrases that make people who don’t bother digging into the details support awful ideas — one of the Bush’s Clean Water Act, which was more or less legislation to avoid clean water. But how are you *against* clean water?!? Abolishing the “death tax” that you only incur on multi-million dollar estates. But you *want* to tax grieving kids!?!? The masses don’t want to get into nuanced details, great. Seems like the Democrats could spend some time with a few marketing guys and come up with catchier names for populist socialist ideas. Compassionate capitalism — are you against compassion? Or capitalism? The horror!

Let’s be forthright — those who disparage socialism promote their own type of socialism. It’s the difference between corporate socialism where capital is transferred to massive corporations (oil subsidies, agro subsidies, bank rescues) and populist socialism where capital is transferred to individuals (Medicare for All, free public Uni tuition, incentives to install personal electrical generation facilities).

Followup – Straws as a Marketing Stunt

Well, I wasn’t wrong 🙂 Plastic straws + free media attention were a great combination for the Trump campaign. 140k straws at 15$ a pack is over 2 million dollars. They cleared 200k on that, which isn’t bad for a week or two of fundraising. And half of the purchasers were new donors — which means a lot of new contact information to solicit future donations and to target “get out the vote” efforts. And it’s pretty easy to figure out what message will entice this demographic.

Straws as a Marketing Stunt

As a campaign/marketing stunt, the Trump campaign’s plastic straws are brilliant. It is a solid component of the “troll the liberals” campaign plank. Garnered a lot of attention (not *good* attention, but that seemingly doesn’t matter). Sure, major news outlet aren’t exactly saying “go shop the Trump reelection store!!!”, but media outlets are still providing free advertising for Trump.

Parenting Books

When my girl was < 1 year, I bought a LOT of parenting books because the advertising promised me some sleep. Quickly formed a hypothesis that a large percentage of parenting book sales are completely desperate and sleep deprived moms for whom the content isn’t as important as the fact they’re trying SOMETHING. Because as a how-to guide? Absolute useless. Which makes sense since human being aren’t automatons, thus it’s pretty much impossible to predict the result of any set of inputs.

I haven’t found the toddler-themed books to be any better. “I hear that you are angry because I won’t let you go outside without a coat when it is 3 degrees” or the toddlereze version “Bean angry, don’t want coat” never once had my kid perk up and say “I’m glad you understand my frustration here. Now that you validate my point of view, sure I’ll do what you’ve asked of me”. My daughter seems to get angrier — “ok, you know I want ice cream for breakfast so why aren’t you doing it?!?”.

Choices are completely ineffective for us too. Presented two equally awesome choices (do you want to go to the zoo or the aquarium), sure she’ll pick one. Otherwise she’ll make up a third option that she does like. Or go with “C: None of the above”. Which, stepping outside of the immediate situation … props to a 3 year old kid for the thought process. But it certainly didn’t help me navigate the day.

That being said, I did like “Time-Out for Parents” (ISBN-13 978-0971030930) which didn’t so much focus on how to parent a child but asking yourself why you get stressed out over some scenarios (i.e. Why do I care if she goes without a coat when it’s 45 degrees outside? No clue, let it go and bring a jacket in case she gets cold. Why do I care when it’s 3 degrees? Health and safety, wear the coat!) and how to re-center yourself now that you’ve got massive amount of conflict in your life.