September 02, 2014
Throwing Cold Water On The Ice Bucket
One of the dependable characteristics of dumb guys is the attribution of far-reaching meaning to random occurrences.
In the past, people thought lightning was an expression of godly anger. Comets and meteors were thought to augur the end of the world.
You can always tell who the half-bright marketing promoters are because they, too, attribute deep meaning to every random marketing phenomenon.
As soon as something comes out of nowhere to be a marketing success, they get busy developing a big dumb interpretation of it and drawing specious conclusions. They produce long-winded essays and blog posts about the lessons we fools should learn from the miracle.
Perhaps you remember "The Blair Witch Project." It was a movie that out-of-the-blue became a huge success driven by a small online advertising campaign. All the half-wit marketing gurus saw this as a seismic shift in movie marketing that would forever end the practice of spending large sums on traditional advertising by movie studios.
Of course, it did no such thing and studios are spending more than ever to market their films.
Then there was Zappos. Its unlikely success was interpreted as a signal of the beginning of a new age in which enormous business goals would be achieved with just a little clever Twitterage. Once again, Zappos turned out to be an anomaly that no one has been able to duplicate.
Then there was the Arab Spring in which communications experts explained to us how social media had become the indomitable force for political change that was going to bring freedom, democracy, and kale smoothies to the Middle East. Yeah, any day now.
And now we have the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Every dim bulb is drawing grand conclusions from this one-off. I guarantee you there are about a thousand Powerpoint presentations currently in the works explaining the "Five Critical Lessons" we should be learning from it.
In fact, there is only one lesson to be learned from the Ice Bucket Challenge: sometimes silly shit catches on.