As a touch developer people often ask me what makes our touch stack better than the rest. As exhibit A I present this image of one of our competitor’s products.
This was found in Orlando’s Hard Rock Cafe.
Note: nothing written here should be seen as an endorsement or anything by Canonical or any other party. This is just me
being a comedian speculating on things.
By now we have seen that in the world of marketing black is white and outside is downside or something to that effect. Let’s apply our newly found knowledge to a real world issue. If we were to design a new “image” for Ubuntu using the guidelines given, what would it look like.
First we need to determine what Ubuntu is. It is an operating system. Therefore we must not ever mention that fact. Or the fact that it is scalable, has high performance or any other attribute that can be quantified.
Then we need to determine what it is not. Reading through Internet postings we find that due to Ubuntu’s Unix heritage there are problems with non-working hardware, having to use the command line, compiling applications from source to use them and so on. Whether or not these accusations are true is irrelevant. They simply tell us that according to valued Internet posters such as mr Trolly McTrollenstein Ubuntu is user-hostile.
What is the opposite of hostile? There are several choices, but let’s go with cozy.
For a visual look we’re going to use a cheap trick: upturned palms. This is an age-old technique to look sincere as used by used car salesmen, politicians and other people whose job it is to make you trust them even if you really should not. Putting it all together we get something like this.
The Coziest Computer Experience in the World
Now all that is needed is that a few million people keep repeating this mantra consistently to change reality as we know it.
If I asked you who defines the reality we live in, you would probably think that it’s a strange question. So let’s examine this with a simple question.
How was this guy commonly referred to?
No, not creepy weirdo. The other one.
That’s right, the King of Pop. But have you ever wondered how he became the King? Did he do battle with other peons of pop to eventually rise up as the ruler of popdom? Is there a a section of the UN that governs over the royalty of popular culture (there are at least The Duke, a Princess and a Queen)? Or maybe he was thrown a Sword of Pop by a lady in the lake thus giving him this prestigious role.
One might wonder about the succession of this Kinghood. Did he get his from the King of Kings who had died just before his career got off? And now that the King of Pop is dead, who is the next King? Is it this guy:
These were among the questions that Howard Stern thought about a long time ago. He realized that no-one had actually named Michael Jackson the King of Pop, he had just started calling himself that. So he decided to try the same thing just to see if it worked, even though he was just a radio show host (though a pretty successful one at that). So he started calling himself King of All Media. The results were quite interesting.
People started treating him as if he truly were King of All Media. At interviews he was always presented as King of All Media and even regular people commonly referred to him as that. He had not done any media conquests or anything like that. He simply started behaving as if he were the King and people treated him as such. In effect, he had altered reality simply through his will.
This is not an isolated incident. There is also the case of Norton I, the Emperor of the United States. He was a businessman who lost his fortune, went insane and declared himself emperor. He was then treated like an emperor. People wrote him letters pretending to be various heads of state, issued currency in his name and even attended his funeral by the tens of thousands. In his mind he truly was the emperor, simply because chose to be.
To come back to the original question: reality is defined people’s view on the world. Those views are not actually based on anything in the same way buildings are based on the ground they rest on. So if you want to change the world, all you have to do is to pretend that the change has already happened and behave accordingly. The really scary part is that other people will start believing it (though it’s not in any way guaranteed that over two people will ever See the Light as You Intended).
This is what advertising is based on: choosing how you want the world to be and then repeating it over and over and over and over again. Eventually reality changes and your message has become fact.
And that is why plants crave Brawndo: it’s got electrolytes.
For those with an engineering background, marketing seems somewhat bizarre. A lot about it just does not seem to make any sort of sense. This is commonly known as the rational-view-of-the-world bias. But if you look into it, things become clearer step by step.
Mostly everything follows from Rule Number One of marketing. It goes as follows:
You must emphasize that which your product is not.
Seems quite backwards, doesn’t it? But yet, this is what has been proven to work, time and time again. Let’s look at an example.
One of the main plot devices of the TV show True Blood is that a japanese company has developed synthetic blood and thus vampires don’t have to feed on humans any more. They named this product Tru Blood.
Why this name? Because that is the one thing the product is not. It is not real, but synthetic.
A more real-world example comes from Hong Kong. They had a problem where people in a certain swamp area kept dying of malaria. This of course made it somewhat hard to get people to move in there. So the people in charged made the only reasonable choice: they renamed the place Happy Valley. Problem solved.
This is one of those things that once you “see” it, it’s everywhere. Here are just some examples.
Apple’s slogan is “Think different” but their products go out of their way to prevent the user from doing anything not officially sanctioned.
Any Hollywood movie that advertises itself as a “hilarious comedy” is usually roughly as fun as dragging steel forks on a chalkboard.
Restaurants and food manufacturers commonly use phrases such as “just like mom used to make” and “delicious home-cooked food” even though my mother never made any food like that and and fairly sure that chefs don’t live in the backrooms of their restaurants. (And if they do, I really don’t want to eat in those locations.)
Freshly squeezed orange juice isn’t and blueberry muffins aren’t.
Enron’s stationary slogan was “Respect. Integrity. Communication. Excellence.”
The TV show Bullshit! was originally about exposing quacks and hoaxes using science. At some point it became a soapbox for the hosts’ personal libertarian agenda of “everything the government ever does is always wrong (even if it is the exact opposite of what we were talking about last week)”. At the exact same time the show’s opening credits was changed to emphasize science, objectivity, reason, fairness and all other values the show itself didn’t adhere to any more.
The obvious question that comes from all this is that why does this work. That will be explained in the next post.