How to use time-travelling anthropologist pollsters to tell good from evil marketing

SplinterMany British geeks (including me, once) have an instinctive distaste for marketing.

This is wrong – it lets the evil people get all the advantages of marketing. It hides really good and useful products and services from people.

Instead we need a morality to distinguish the good from the bad. The only definition that I’ve come across – and it’s custom designed for geeks – is as follows (this is courtesy of Julian Todd):

Imagine the universe splinters into two at the point you decide whether to carry out a (what will be successful in some way) marketing (or sales!) action. For simplicity, assume the marketing here targets a particular person to change their behaviour in some way.

A) You take the action, and somebody decides to buy your product (vote for your party, whatever)

B) You don’t take the action, and the person doesn’t buy your product (they buy another, they don’t vote, or whatever)

Then imagine you had a team of time travelling anthropologist pollsters. They would hop to universe A and to universe B. They go to the point where the target is on their death bed and do a sophisticated happiness survey of them.

Whichever universe they’re happiest in, indicates whether the marketing action was good or evil.

Do every marketing hack you can. As ruthlessly as you can. With that moral criteria.

Comments (3)

  1. Sam Thursfield wrote::

    I agree with your initial point, but I’m not sure that’s a great metric. Marketing iPads makes people happy in the West, but it makes the people working 18 hour shifts to put them together in China a lot less happy. Imagine that through marketing you convince various racist thugs to vote for the BNP, and they get into power for years. That will make the racist thugs very happy! But I don’t think you can say that it therefore wasn’t evil.

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 3:30 pm #
  2. Francis wrote::

    Sam – right! Wonder how we can improve the metric? We need some kind of basic criteria.

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 5:43 pm #
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    Tuesday, August 5, 2014 at 4:16 am #