Marketing humanity

by Mehrab Jamal

00020A rudimentary notion in marketing as a field of study is that one must cater to human emotions and interests in order to successfully sell a product to said human or collective of humans. This is an intuition in business that is very obvious yet significantly difficult to master. In the piece of text that ensues, a lecture on marketing will not unfold, rather an observation, one that could be deemed to have been recognised from a cynic’s stand-point will be elaborated on.
A couple of months back, Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg found himself stranded in a quagmire of criticism when his business entity, Facebook, introduced the ‘French-Flag-Overlay’ using which subscribers of Facebook, who amount to approximately 1.6 billion in active numbers, could show support and pay their respects to those deceased in the Paris Attacks. Little did Mr Zuckerberg know or predict that a certain populace of his ‘Facebook clientele’ would condemn his apparent exclusion of those countries and citizens who had previously suffered at the nasty hands of terrorist attacks similar to or of even greater magnitude than that in Paris. While the general populace denounced Facebook’s apparent negligence towards countries like Syria, I myself had a different stand-point.
Corporate Social Responsibility: it is a funny thing. It is an instance where you might as well deduce that hypocrisy is indeed a part-and-parcel of business acumen. Corporate social responsibility and the subsequent demonstration of ethics and morals is closely intertwined with the creationof value for a business, value in the form of the oh-so-important public relations scene of a business entity. It caters to the aforementioned human emotions, it panders to the humane depths within us all.
Facebook, we must not forget, is not just a virtual organism which is brought alive by its users; Facebook is, indeed, just another business entity…it is a corporation, whose purpose, at the end of the day, is to create value that is pecuniary in nature. So is it possible that Facebook rolling out that ‘French-Flag-Overlay’ feature before it did so for Syria was a CSR engagement owing to the fact there are approximately 30 million French Facebook-ers, whereas the total population of Syria, in itself, is short of 20 million? Was Zuckerberg merely trying to retain a profitable standing amongst his French ‘clientele’?
This whole charade to depict oneself as a humane entity is not limited to just profit-maximising corporations; the same is typically practiced in politics as well. Let’s steer clear of the obvious elephant in the room and turn the spotlight on the political stalwarts in the more ‘welcoming’West. I do not plan on getting into a proverbial fist-fight on freedom of expression just yet.
Political leaders are the resident experts on manipulating human emotions in a manner that helps further their cause, this cause being staying in power. A research publication found that politicians more often than not, make use of certain key-words such as ‘hope’, ‘aspirations’, ‘positive change’, ‘justice’, ‘freedom’, ‘morals’, ‘principles’, ‘values’ and numerous other such stimulants in their monologues to indulge their audience’s emotional and often naïve side.
Who amongst us remembers ‘that’ Obama speech? I myself am no political analyst but several experts in the USA conclude that Obama has not been able to materialise most of what he had promised. But let’s look to the future.
The holy grail for every writer’s tagline, the stuff of dreams…Donald Trump and his stunning trail to presidency. The man has pandered to a good proportion of Americans’ misconceptions and presumptions about Muslims and Mexicans and exploited this to establish a loyal base. Trump quite fantastically made angry people angrier and some would say, naive people fools.
On the other side of the spectrum we have Hillary Clinton: if you have taken note of even half of her monologues or rebuttals in the Democratic debates, you would know that she is indeed riding the wave of feminism with great comfort and aplomb…she will always, one way or the other, find a way to slip in that thought of ‘the first ever female president’or ‘I am doing it for the women’ notion in her tracks. We must admit, the idea of having a woman as the leader of the free world is one that everyone would be proud of. Ugghh…I am getting enticed too! At the end of the day, humans, Americans, must deduce if she is the best candidate altogether, if they can keep their touchy-feely self at bay that is.
Human emotions, perhaps they are the one Achilles heel that is rooted in us all. At the end of the day, results are all that matter. Be they in politics or in business. But at what point do we stop manipulating our fellow humans? At what point do we pay heed to the means more than we do to the end? When do corporations actually start having an ethical stance with no ulterior motive? When do those we trust in to make a positive change, mend their own ways first?

The author is an undergraduate student at the University of Sydney

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