November 25, 2019

The Six Stages Of Digital Delusion


This week an old piece of mine from one of my books got some attention on Twitter when someone posted it. I decided to update it and repost it today.

One of our axioms here at The Ad Contrarian Worldwide Headquarters is that in today's world of marketing, delusional thinking is not just acceptable, it's mandatory.

Digital media have been the primary cause and the primary beneficiary of delusional thinking. The fascinating thing is that the cycle of delusion has been going on for almost 20 years and we still don't recognize it.

Here are the 6 stages of digital delusion:
1. The Miracle Is Acknowledged: It may be podcasting or virtual reality, blockchain or the Ice Bucket Challenge, Pok√©mon Go, QR Codes, or "content." Whatever it is, it is going to "change everything." It will be the focus of hysterical attention in the trade press and will often find its way into the business section of the newspaper.

2. The Big Success: A company somewhere has a big success. This is where the danger starts. The success is plastered all over every trade magazine and analyzed at every conference. It is "proof" that the miracle is real.
3. Experts Are Hatched: Clever "experts" gather up a Powerpointful of bullshit and march it around from conference to conference. They write articles, and even books, on how not to be left behind.
4. The Bandwagon Rolls: Everyone who knows nothing is suddenly asking the marketing department, "what is our (latest miracle) strategy?" Fearing that she will be thought insufficiently trendy, every CMO is suddenly looking for an agency that is expert at (latest miracle.)

5. Reality Rears Its Ugly Head: The numbers dribble in. Oops...people are ignoring our miracle by the  billions. The miracle seems to be working for everyone but us!

6. The Back-Pedaling Begins: "Well, it's just part of an integrated program..." say the former zealots. The experts start blaming the victims, "Hey, we never promised...We told you you had to... Just wait, you'll see..."
This cycle has repeated itself so many times that it's comical. 

Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

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