Is it Real or is it Rote?


Education based on Rote isn't Real

The time is coming to an end, the election is almost here. And we all know what that means. Yep, marketers, advertisers and creative folks will be on the market looking for work, with reinforced portfolios of broadcast, TV and digital examples of their work.

Many (most) are saying that it will be a relief that these ads are over, and that we can finally get back to “normal”, but can we?

For so long now we’ve been inundated with all these repetitive ads, slogans, catch phrases, images over and over and over again. What we fail to recognize is that IS normal. We always get these, that is the nature of branding.  Reinforcing awareness, advertising and marketing through multiple touches.

I am amused by those who say they are not affected by these ads, but then freely tout the message on other platforms. The old saying is, if you say something enough times, people will believe it. How’s that for normal?

When I was in college there was this guy. He was a gossip, but a “responsible” one. He would only repeat a story he had confirmed. His idea of confirming it was hearing it more than once. So we’d plant stories with him, telling him the story one way one day, and then several days later telling him a similar story. The reaction was the same, “Hey, ya know what. I DID hear that before. It must be true.” Before you knew it, the story was everywhere, and it was “verified”.

Ok, so in that story I’m the bad guy because I started the stories, but they were innocuous, and most times they were strange enough that others who knew of my “study” caught on and could tell it was an example of it. But the concept stays the same, and it’s really no different than today’s political stories. (Except it seems these days the people starting the tall tales aren’t considered bad, those questioning the validity of them are. I don’t get that.)

This approach of repetition however is very effective. It has been a tactic of choice throughout education for generations, from learning through rote, songs, memorization, and writing sayings on the blackboard to make sure you learn the lesson. People remember this way. But they don’t learn. They don’t think. They just accept the message as true because they’ve heard it before, and so it MUST be true.

These folks who are about to come on the free market having spent the last weeks, months, years promoting political candidates through PACs, SuperPACs or other “independent” groups, will have to learn a lesson that doesn’t apply to politics. In marketing and advertising there is a neat little clause that refers to “Truth in Advertising”. Products, services, and marketers are required to abide by these rules.

They do, however, know how to tap into the vulnerable interest buttons of their audience. We could certainly use more folks who understand the fundamentals of marketing and understanding the customers, providing information they will respond to. Let’s just hope we can turn them back from the dark side. (I think their strategists are a lost cause, though. Probably too damaged.)

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