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Is marketing a tool for manipulation or is it a reaction to the consumer’s needs and wants? WRITTEN BY WILLIAM HART FOR MARKETING AND BRANDING TAUGHT BY JASON RESCH


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When I first heard this question: “Is marketing a tool for manipulation or is it a reaction to the consumer’s needs and wants?” I thought for sure that there must be an obvious, one way or the other, answer. Each class we’ve watched documentary after documentary on marketing. Some that come to mind immediately are Objectified, The Merchants of Cool, and Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator. Each time I leave class I feel physically sickened by the super corporate world of marketing. Of course I’m writing this on my MacBook, listening to iTunes, with my Netflix Wii disk on pause; the perfect hypocrite.

The answer to this question isn’t black and white.


On one hand marketing is indeed a reaction to needs and wants. In Objectified there are whole teams of product designers who tackle everyday problems people have with household items. Their aim is to make the consumer’s life easier while selling them a product that is well designed for their needs as well as being aesthetically pleasing. This aspect of marketing is true and perfect. Helping the consumer to live an easier and more beautiful life, is very admirable.

Marketing is also a tool for manipulation. There have been endless examples I’ve seen in the months I’ve attended this class. One of the best (or worst) is The Merchants of Cool. The documentary follows “cool hunters.” They’re the ones who put their fingers to the pulse of the moment and try to see if they can’t feel what’s going to be the next big thing. This is detestable for the reason that once they find this authentic cool, they exploit what they’ve found, sell it to the


highest bidder who makes it a synthesized cool, and by that time totally kills the thing (whatever it may have been)

The destructive capabilities of

that meant so much to whom

marketing came out in the

ever it was originally gleaned

documentary Stoked: The Rise

from.

and Fall of Gator. In the documentary you can see how people are nothing more than pawns to be used by whomever is smart enough to know how they can make a buck with their image. The skater Mark “Gator” Rogowski was a rebel who wasn’t trying to make something of himself and became one of the most popular skateboarders in the world. Gator got sold to kids who loved him because of his authenticity, who wanted to be him, and most importantly looked up to him. They wanted the Vision Street Wear the deck he skated, the shoes, and clothes he wore. Then the next minute, Gator got thrown away because his cool ran out.


So as you can see there are instances of marketing being used for good and evil (however, mostly evil). In a conversation I had with Jason Resch he said in regards to advertising,

“If you don’t do it first someone else will.” That conversation as well as the sentiment from the documentaries that we’ve watched are some things that I’d like to take away from the class. I now realize there are ways to market to consumers with their best interest in mind. If you don’t do it first, someone else will and there’s the possibility that they’ll market to the consumer without conscience.


So, is marketing a tool for manipulation or is it a reaction to the consumers needs and wants? The answer to this esoteric question is that marketing is both. So, is marketing a tool for

manipulation or is it a reaction to

the consumer’s needs and wants? The answer to this esoteric

question is that marketing is both.

Marketing is a tool for manipulation because of people’s needs and

wants, as much as people’s needs

and wants make marketers react to sell them more of it.

If you make something look so

good that you can make someone

feel that they need and want it, you have something that will make you money and that’s, hands down,

what marketing is really all about.


The Merchants of Cool. Dir. Barak Goodman. Perf. Douglas Rushkoff, Shaggy 2 Dope, Christina Aguilera. PBS Home Video, 2001. DVD. Objectified. Dir. Gary Hustwit. Perf. Paola Antonelli, Chris Bangle, Andrew Blauvelt. Plexi Productions, Swiss Dots, 2009. DVD. Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator. Dir. Helen Stickler. Perf. Mark ‘Gator’ Rogowski, Stacy Peralta, Tony Hawk. HMS Projects, 2002. DVD.

Bibliography


kcul dooG“ ”.luos taht htiw HCSER NOSAJ-


“Good luck with that soul.” -JASON RESCH


Is marketing a tool for manupilation or is it a response to consumer's needs and wants?