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Marketing is a World of Gray
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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When we were a little into our marketing career years ago, we were fortunate to have an Op-Ed of ours get picked up by BrandWeek that pioneered the idea that "Graybeards should Step Aside" and let the younger, more technologically adept professionals lead the way in a rapidly changing industry.

This post is not about that. In terms of "gray," we are talking about the "right" principles of marketing versus the "wrong" ways brands consider when thinking of marketing activities.

In a world of diverse thinking, we think that it is safe to say that there are two absolutes when looking into the best practices in marketing:
  1. Knowing the target market is everything. Narrow the audience; and
  2. People will buy based on the message if they trust the sender. Build that credibility with your customers.
Nothing mindblowing, right? 

It starts to get more complicated when we start considering more tactics. For example, when it is best to use humor? If we are trying to be funny, how far should the joke go? Humor can exist, but when should it be applied? We usually see it in alcohol, in products geared to the younger crowd — and there are more.

Or when should war- or poverty-related information make an appearance in advertising?

Some etiquette rules apply, but attention should be given to how we categorize what we do as marketers.

Like a team, our industry is as strong as our weakest colleague.

What issues have you thought up or run into that seem to be in a gray area? Anything in mind?

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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