Sexual Healing For Hi-Tech
MARKET MATURITY MEANS MISERABLE MARKETING
So there they were, three computer software executives
dining in one of Wellesley's better restaurants; dejectedly
puddling the butter in their mashed potatoes; and lamenting
the loss of fun in marketing the maturing software industry.
It's all so identical they moaned... run a seminar; do a
direct mail piece; have PR get coverage in every magazine;
move more into telemarketing; run some ads; acquire an 800
number; take in a trade show... not to mention the ubiquitous
hospitality suite. Boy! If this is market maturity, they
concluded, bring us back to software's infantile days or pass
Unfortunately, turning back any markets development to the
pioneer days is impossible due to the nature of pioneering
per se. Boundaries get set and the stakes get higher. As a
result what we end up seeing as any market matures is not the
exploring, infantile, marketing enthusiasm of old; but
neurotic campaigns cloaked in the rationale, "de riguerur."
Afterall, there are only so many ways to skin a cat, or place
an eraser on a pencil. Even the Kamasutra had its numerical
In ways, addressing immature vs mature markets can be
characterized by the difference between a carefree colt
romping in a wideopen pasture and nervous racehorse weaving
back and forth in its confining stall. Finite restrictions
can bring out the worst in all living beings. And for all
creatives -- marketing or otherwise, this is particularly
true as they search for yet another encore to surpass their
Therefore, my prediction is that in the rapidly maturing
software industry, we are about to see much more neurotic
behavior. And regarding the "de riguerur," I hope that if it
is to be in the form of the currently popular sweepstakes
theme, it does not resemble the one so conceived by Young &
Rubicam's for Canada Dry.
Joan or $1,000,000
To the sweepstakes winner, Canada Dry is going to give a
choice between: A fabulous dinner with Joan Collins; or a
cool million dollars!
Clearly, we are approaching the twilight zone with this
contest. For to me, it sounds conceived by the free-
association, fantasy group at Bridgewater State Mental
Hospital for sexual offenders. Let's diagram this contest so
as to identify some of its obsurd ramifications.
Actually, it's a little difficult to know where to parse this
turkey. I don't know whether to react to the "choice"
aspect; the sexual discrimination aspect; or the cheapened
state in which Ms. Collins has put herself as I am certain
that the choice in this sweepstakes will be ridiculed
Sex n' Soda
In stretching for parallels, Y&R contends that neither Canada
Dry nor Joan are too sweet and both stand for class. While
the first may be true for the ginger ale, it hard to accept
that it's true for Joan Collins in her current persona as
Alexis. She's a witch! And with respect to class, I can't
recall ever seeing Ms Collins sipping a ginger ale with Dex
However, what Collins is more than anything else is a
superb seductress... and a sensually, beautiful one at that.
And this is where this sweepstakes loses points, for the
circumstantial evidence indites this contest as sexually
biased. I've never seen nor heard of Joan seducing another
woman; she didn't appear in Playgirl; yet she did in Playboy.
As a result, The message seems very clear: Women need not
apply! Somehow, the lure of this choice isn't about another
woman having dinner with Ms Collins to compare notes on
Scoundrel perfume also endorsed by Ms. Collins. Yet, aren't
women still the major purchasers of soda?
Choice n' Chance
It's doubtful that Young & Rubicam actually believe that
there is a choice to be made by the sweepstakes winner.
He or she will grab the million big ones. Based on the
demographics of wealth, I think that they are safe, for I
estimate that a rational person would probably have to have
$44 mil in the bank to forego the equivalent to a calendar
quarter's interest for din-din with Joan.
The consequences of the above are twofold: Ms. Collins has
an almost 100% chance of being rejected by the winner; and if
not rejected, she'll have the chance of a life time to
anticipate a nervous evening with a libidinous person whose
thinking is grossly maladjusted by hormones.
See what I mean about neurotic marketing: Here we have a
soda company playing to the wrong audience while perhaps
offending the one that buys their product; and a seductress
setting herself up for rejection #@*!
Problems n' Solutions
Whether Gloria Steinham pans this contest or not, I think
that its current arrangement runs the risk of creating more
problems than it solves. For sure, its appeal would be far
more reaching if women also had the opportunity to toy
with the idea of a dinner with John Forsythe, who's classy
yet isn't too sweet either in the persona of Blake Carrington
The next problem is that the choice isn't difficult enough to
focus prolonged attention. Sure, I can imagine the
conversations at the bars. But in the final analysis, I
can't imagine two divided factions cheering "Go For It!" Had
only the alternative fantasies been more conflictingly
difficult... such as living for a year like Alexis or
Blake, all expenses paid up to a million dollars for the
house, the clothes the servants, the horses (that's $83,333
per month) ... OR only a flat $500,000 in cash. Then, the
fleeting jockularity of this contest would attenuate as the
real economic arguements would emerge. And this million
dollar sweepstakes would become legend.
So if you too are a software executive; find yourself
puddling the butter in your mashed potatoes; and have thought
of sweepstakes, there are a few guidelines to remember.
First, software provides solutions to problems; not problems
looking for solutions. Hence tie the outcome of the contest
to a solution which is meaningful to your sponsorship .
Second, because this is a "seven day world"... try to extend
it to eight. Lotteries, sweepstakes, raffles and all sorts of
give-aways abound. Conceive the contest to go the extra
distance and provide a lingering -- if not lasting --effect.
Third, the computer industry is the most androgynous (yes,
spelled with a "y") industry of all. Let's keep it that way.
If there's an element of "cheesecake" make certain that there
is an equal percentage of "beefcake."
Fourth, stay in wide-open pastures and not confined stalls in
the designing the event. Restrictions will drive you crazy.
Fifth, if you don't believe in the above, call Suzanne
Sommers of Ace Hardware fame. Apparently, legitimacy is only
a matter of money.