Thursday, June 16, 2005

Disguise as Marketing

Rupert Murdoch in one of the most amazing speeches a newspaperman can say about his industry. A acknowledgement of how the industry is changing and getting transformed due to the disruptive force of the Internet.

He said :

We may never become true digital natives, but we can and we must begin to assimilate to their culture and way of thinking.

In the movie, Never been Kissed, Drew Barrymore plays the role of a 25 yr old copy writer in the Chicago-Sun times who is given a opportunity to do her first story as a reporter by being a undercover high school student.

In one of the literature classes, the teacher is talking about shakespeare. He lectures on the specific statement by Shakespeare of "All the world's a stage and we are only actors in it".

The teacher in the movie interprets that as actors our disguises play a large part. And here the story becomes interesting as to how if we are in a different disguise we start doing different things. he says we get a new sense of freedom and start to do new things which we never thought possible.

Like a high school student who would wear his football costume and then start pushing people, pressing other guys bums and generally kick-ass.

The point was that it is normal, since he was in a specific football disguise.

Now, this goes back to the words of Rupert Murdoch that "we, the digital migrants need to understand the digital natives if we have any chance to succeed with the disruptive force of the internet".

All of us in the running of organizations, be it businesses, not-for-profits, those in the govt. everybody needs to start putting up their disguises and understand their customers. the best way for that would be to spend time with them, be like them, think like them and act like them.

Going back to the movie, never been kissed, Drew barrymore tries very hard to be accepted by the "popular kids". You can see the change in her - the dressing changes, the walk changes, the talk changes, the places she goes to changes...what she is trying to do is be like them.

How many of us in the marketing world do that?

Do we try to be like our "popular customers" or do we just try to understand them. And can understanding come without experiencing?


Blogger bryanong said...

hey suhit..ha is my first time posting a comment to your site. i like this posting of yours and I do agreed that not many marketers does the same way as how drew barrymore is in the movie or what rupert murdoch said. I particularly like your sentences: "Do we try to be like our "popular customers" or do we just try to understand them. And can understanding come without experiencing? "

However, I think this is really easier said than done. When talking about an individual here like drew barrymore; it is probably easy to act like the others. When it comes to an organisation, it is really hard..first you have so many customers which are probably different. okay we might concentrate and act like our popular customers, however isn't it like losing a self identity? Also, one of the biggest barrier to this as well is to make the organisation with so many people 'as a system' to think like this. Fostering this thinking & making this part of the culture is probably the harderst part.

I am not saying that this can't be done but it is a very hard task. Howeever, we still would need to think this way as what you said earlier; we are all living in a marketing world now.

Also, I think the sentence might need to be change. We should think like them rather than be like them. An individual or organisation should never lose its self identity. We can think like them by experiencing what our customers go through but not be like them. I get the 'real' meaning of your sentences but i think the sentence might be a bit misleading


16 June, 2005 19:10  
Blogger Suhit Anantula said...


Thanks for the wonderful first comment.

You have touched upon three very important aspects.

one is that of the organizational culture. it always comes down to it. At the end the organization is made up of individuals and the guiding principle for all these individuals is the culture. That is hard to develop but I guess worth it.

The second part is the "popular customers". I just used it as rhyming to "popular kids". But basically this should be true for any customer segment and as you pointed out, there are many for a company or product.

the third part is the "to be" part of it. I am not at all suggesting that organizations should lose their identity. However, considering that they are in 'disguise' they need 'to be' like the customers.

They can always go back to their normal self once the disguise is removed!

16 June, 2005 19:27  
Blogger Thoughtcurry said...

That is a very valid question you have raised. Its a catch 22 then. You have to wear your customer's shoes, see through his eyes and listen through his ears. But then you are in the danger of starting to think like him. And that is not he wants you to do. You are there just because he doesnt want you to think like him. This problem is very relevant to consultancy firms also.

17 June, 2005 15:26  
Blogger David Best said...


I'm thinking what your thinking. In a lot of industires, if you become too much like your customer you no longer have anything to offer. She already has what she is, no need for you.

Yet, if you don't use the customers language...

Indeed, a "catch 22"

20 June, 2005 16:08  
Blogger David Best said...


Very thought provoking post, I like it!

On this:

"They can always go back to their normal self once the disguise is removed!"

Are you sure? What I mean is, in theory thats true, but what if for some companies or individuals it turns out to be false.

I think working with disguises is playing with fire...and I think you must play with fire.

Again, great post!

20 June, 2005 16:12  

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