|Family time: reduced to a marketing gimmick|
There's an old saying in marketing which goes: "sell the sizzle, not the sausage". In other words focus upon the additional subjective aspects the product offers you. They used to tell us it in pop music radio. For example, the big prize you're offering is to meet Westlife. When you sell it to the audience on air, focus on telling the story of what it might be like to ACTUALLY MEET Westlife! What they might be wearing, what you might say to them, how you'll get there in a limo etc. What will your friends think when you tell them you're off to meet the fab five? And so on, you know, flesh out the experience with subjective detail.
Presumably this is the thinking behind this apparently innocuous poster, which has kind of wound me up. Rather than selling the fact they're knocking a little bit of money off advance tickets, or whatever, they say they're 'reducing the price of hugs'. It's exactly the same sort of nonsense as the "Yummy" biscuits label which M&S used to have. However, in this instance there's a sort of sinister edge. The notion, that this company can reduce the price of hugs, does in fact suggest they have comodified and are selling affectionate gestures. You know, like a whore does.
A lot of people think moments like the one being faked by this poster are priceless. The people who made this poster clearly do not, or at least have been paid to say as such.
I think I'd rather live in a world where we sold the sausages a bit more. This superficial sales technique does more harm than good. For example, when selling the Westlife meet, I didn't actually know the detail. Would they really get to talk to them or would they just have a quick ten second handshake, or what? The "sizzle" therefore needed to be as subjective as possible.
More importantly, this principle of stretching out what you know into the more subjective areas of experience has had terrible consequences in the "real world" of politics. Blair's "faith" in MI6 intelligence reports about weapons of mass destruction are the most obvious example but his heirs Cameron and Milliband, as they debate 'turbo' capitalism vs 'popular' or 'responsible' capitalism show equally dangerous levels of idiocy. The subjective "sizzle" of the 45 minute claim turned out to be exactly that and nothing more.
It's style over substance and it hasn't left us in 2012.