Six Pixels of Separation - The Blog
May 25, 2010 1:40 PM

Marketing Critic

In looking at a newspaper or even more of the headier magazines, isn't it always fascinating to see some of the titles they give to the writers?

Recently, I came across some media titles that made me smile: "Architecture Critic," "Drama Critic," "Wall Street Correspondent." Granted, it is titles just like these that make John Stewart's The Daily Show as funny as it is (make sure to listen for the titles Stewart gives his reporters), but a title can be as meaningless or as creative/inventive as you want it to be and many would argue that in a world like ours, we need many more cooler and smarter titles.

Marketing Critic.

While perusing those publications, I wondered what it would be like to ultimately be labeled a "Marketing Critic." And when I say "labeled" I mean in my inevitable obituary or something for the tombstone (don't worry, there are no plans to expedite that process that I am aware of). I am probably the furthest thing there is from being a "critic" as we have known the role to date, but I am highly critical of the Marketing, Advertising and Communication industry.

Without calling brands out, we can all be doing a whole lot more to build trust with customers.

Why do I not call brands out to task (unlike other Bloggers)? In a very simplistic way: you never know who you are going to run into, who you are going to need as an ally, and who you are going to be working with. I do much more than just Blog. I run (with my three business partners) a 100-plus-person Digital Marketing agency (Twist Image), I sit on the board for many non-profit organizations (including the Canadian Marketing Association), I speak to roughly 70 different types of audiences every single year, and I believe that I will (or have) run into so many brands that it would be to my professional detriment to spend my time ragging on those who I feel may not truly understand the merits of Marketing in 2010.

That doesn't mean that brands get a free pass to keep on doing what they're doing.

In fact, it's the polar opposite. By being critical of the industry (or even an act from within the industry) it gives all of us Marketing professionals an opportunity to look at ourselves more objectively, and wonder how we can get better at improving the relationships that people have with our brands. Doing the whole "tsk tsk tsk" to other brands simply continues the cycle of repulsion that the masses generally have for the Marketing profession (we like to eat our own).


Elevating the conversation by looking at the issues and attempting to create a semblance of guidelines and better strategies is the route that works best (for me). It's also one of the missing links in the toolbox of some of the best Bloggers and Journalists with the cooler titles. Most (and yes, that is an unfounded generalization based on my own, very myopic perspective) are easy to criticize and inject how they would do it, few spend the time to also analyze the entire landscape and dig beyond a bunch of tactics that could have (or should have) been used.

Think about Facebook.

Regardless of where you sit on Facebook and their constant struggle with privacy (more on that here: The Fuss About Facebook), elevate the conversation beyond what they should be doing about privacy to the core issue: this company probably never anticipated the growth, size and care that the users are expressing, so they are rapidly attempting to evolve from a company that was created in a college dorm so people could hook up to what resembles a mirror image of our society and how we are all connected. This is about more than privacy settings as this monstrous company tries to redefine it's overall corporate culture.

Just wondering: wouldn't it be a better industry if people became "Marketing Critical" instead of "Marketing Critics"?

By Mitch Joel