Saturday, January 26, 2002

Tom had a pretty good gloss of my point of view when he said "Assume that we are not dealing with people, but with mathematical and economic mechanisms that have no way of understanding that anything else matters, really, other than the lifeblood of their revenue streams."

Think of the business world as an evolutionary landscape, where the goal is to survive. Gonzo will win in such an environment when companies that adopt Gonzo outperform companies that don't. So the issue is the definition of "outperform".

A company's survival -- the willingness of its investors and creditors to offer their capital -- is not based on the popularity of its marketing, or the tone of voice in which it speaks to its audience, or the good feeling it engenders among its customers. It is not based on customer loyalty, or sales volume. It is not based on revenues, or even on revenue growth.

It is based on profitability.

Despite the contempt for the bean counters, the only thing that can guarantee a company's survival (and I mean *every one*, from freelancers to General Electric) is a making sure that every year, "beans in - beans out > 0". So a company will only adopt a new form of marketing when effectiveness divided by cost adds up to somethign more efficient than its current methods.

Now its obvious to me that Gonzo will work well in places where cost is large (e.g. cars, computers), so that there is enough money to pay for real human voices, but I am fairly sure that Gonzo will not work where cost is already small, i.e. high-volume/low-margin commodities -- bleach, beer, flour, rice, on and on, the stuff that accounts for most marketing dollars spent.

So I'm not buying that telling the people who run the corporations "The revolution is coming and you better get on board, even if, uh, we can't really be sure that you'll earn any more money when it happens..." constitutes much of a revolution, and without seeing how Gonzo creates cheaper marketing campaigns when indexed to effectiveness, I can't see how it helps anybody compete in a mass market.


No comments: