This business of making people conscious of what is happening outside their own small circle is one of the major problems of our time, and a new literary technique will have to be evolved to meet it. Considering that the people of this country are not having a very comfortable time, you can’t perhaps, blame them for being somewhat callous about suffering elsewhere, but the remarkable thing is the extent to which they manage to be unaware of it. Tales of starvation, ruined cities, concentration camps, mass deportations, homeless refugees, persecuted Jews — all this is received with a sort of incurious surprise, as though such things had never been heard of but at the same time were not particularly interesting. The now-familiar photographs of skeleton-like children make very little impression. As time goes on and the horrors pile up, the mind seems to secrete a sort of self-protecting ignorance which needs a harder and harder shock to pierce it, just as the body will become immunised to a drug and require bigger and bigger doses.
-George Orwell, “As I Please,” The Tribune (17 January 1947)
The thing I hate the most about advertising is that it attracts all the bright, creative and ambitious young people, leaving us mainly with the slow and self-obsessed to become our artists. Modern art is a disaster area. Never in the field of human history has so much been used by so many to say so little.
The above quote is a fantastic bit of polarization. It’s genius marketing, even if Banksy claims to eschew marketing. The fact is that the man (or woman?) is a marketing mastermind, with a very clear sense of what his brand is, and what his audience is. He knows how to pick a fight, to make himself and his views relevant.
Self-promotion isn’t inherently a bad thing. But it’s very shitty when somebody goes to a community and just drops their blog link.
It’s not obvious if one person does it, but once you have more than a few people doing it, the communal pool gets polluted, people get frustrated and they start to leave.
And eventually whatever marketing community you tried to set up ends up becoming filled with nothing but blogspam.
The way out of this, in my opinion, isn’t to ban linking to blogposts altogether. You can’t eliminate self-interest from the equation. If people aren’t allowed to link to their blogposts in one space, they’ll go somewhere else.
The way out is to have community standards where everyone is expected to contribute to the conversation.
I’ve posted links to blogposts to reddit several times, and have had them do quite well. The trick to doing this is to make the blogpost an afterthought, and to focus instead on contributing to the community space. You do this by sharing enough of the content in the community itself. On reddit this means summarizing your blogpost, your findings, etc – so that anybody who doesn’t want to read your blogpost is still able to get some value from the post.
I also recommend leaving comments with questions, and with your personal thoughts, what got you writing the blogpost to begin with, what you grappled with, what you’re uncertain about, what the next steps might be. And engage with people in the comments.
Confessions of an Advertising Man is one of the best books I’ve ever read. It took me a long time to get around to reading it. I always assumed that he would be an annoying, unlikeable person. I’m not sure why. I guess I had a negative impression of advertising in general, and I assumed that anything so popular (I’ve heard loads of copywriters and writers praise Ogilvy to the heavens) must be trash.
I think Airbnb is doing great things with it’s marketing. It’s selling a new idea: Hospitality. It sells travel, it sells an experience that presents itself as something outside our current range of known options. Go home, everywhere.
It sells something that isn’t ubiquitous yet, isn’t common sense yet. And that makes a lot of sense to me. You can’t fight hotels by trying to be another hotel. You have to sell a different experience altogether.
They also have a design blog (designairs.com) and an engineering blog (nerds.airbnb.com). When you get as large as a company like Airbnb, the main thing that influences your longevity and survival is probably the quality of your hires. So having these blogs allows Airbnb to market itself to its potential hires.
I don’t find many people who share my view on this, but I think this is a good move and that they should hold their frame. I think the logo is simple and memorable, and it transcends language limitations. The genitalia jokes will persist for a while, but eventually it will probably just mean “Airbnb.”
I also like the Belong Anywhere idea. I think it’s a nice touch of branding, I think it helps them to self-select a certain kind of host and a certain kind of traveller, and that can make all the difference. I’m eager to see how they grow and develop as a cultural force in the world.