Marketing strategies that could only sell antiemetics

Having to get up at 5:25 am to go to a distant hospital is remarkably effective at crystallising negative conclusions. On the bright side, knowing what not to do is super important. Via negativa and all that.

The train ride emphasised the UI problems in Amazon.

Amazon Audible:

“We don’t care that you paid for the service. Get us more clients.”

Look at this screen: why in the name of G-d is the main part of the screen a sharing button?

Why am I paying 40 quid per book and being constantly “encouraged” to make Amazon even more money?

I don’t mind a little bit of it, but this is the unmissable, ever-present centre-piece of the their user interface.

What a fail.

feeling like someone is selling to you

Coming home after a day of travelling and exploring a new hospital, I was greeted by a letter from Tesco. “Every little helps”, I think, as I open it…


“The art of the one-directional equals sign”

So I asked for a new Clubcard cause the old one stopped working – and they sent it to me with this explanatory note on how to use a loyalty card (cause, you know, customers need one).

So if a=b, b=a… Am I right? Well, if €1=1 point, 1 point should equal €1.

But no, it actually equals one cent (you get a percent back as a coupon).

Marketing strategies that offend people’s intelligence are a bad idea.


(Also, it turns out that Irish Tesco is a considerably more upmarket establishment than its eponymous parent in the UK. The Irish branch exists as a separate subsidiary so as to not have to reveal the markups on their Irish lines, which I can only image are astronomical.)

Then Twitter came to just leave me no chance at a peaceful day of consuming products and services….

The latest set of people who sell things to you online on how to sell things online

via Twitter, of course

This reminds me of that time that my friends, having watched The Wolf of Wall Street, bought tickets to Jordan Belfort’s two-hour seminar in Dublin – where he promised to reveal all his woof-woof-woooolfy secrets.

If there was one thing that I learnt from watching The Wolf of Wall Street, it’s that one shouldn’t buy from people like him:

What did my friends say about the seminar? That they just paid 50 euro to attend a seminar that was basically a sales pitch asking them to attend a considerably more expensive two-day seminar in London. That’s where you really learn the secrets, you see.

The idea these people have is that “it’s a numbers game, so I will just follow everyone and see what I catch”. It makes people feel expendable.

marketing strategies that annoy people

Way too much offensive marketing for one day. I can’t be the only one pissed off by these marketing strategies, can I?

All publicity is good publicity and, naturally, if I had actually been very annoyed, I wouldn’t have written about the above. Twitter, Amazon and Tesco are still super-talented marketers. They have already won, and these are minor bloopers.

And then there is the utterly ridiculous, from Colgate:

marketing strategies that annoy customers

It’s an alright toothbrush though 😉

11 thoughts on “Marketing strategies that could only sell antiemetics”

  1. Dr,

    Capitalism needs to continually be fed with the type of blind consumption you’ve just described😔

    You…are the exception in realizing the insanity this dynamic feeds on for growth. Stay strong and keep writing good stuff like this😎

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ha! You hit a nerve with me today…downloaded Audible yesterday only to discover it doesn’t work with iOS because they don’t want to pay the in-app purchase royalties to iTunes. Big companies fighting over money….hmm… I choose neither, I’d rather read your blog!!! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

      1. You can use a web browser window to use it, and you can even download the app, but you cannot buy things within the app. Audible doesn’t want to share with Apple. Annoying to the user is what I say.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. And here is Slavoj Zizek on the seminar that uses your desire for the secret to whatever it is to sell you the seminar that promises to reveal the secret to whatever it is:

    “There is a very Hegelian joke that illustrates perfectly the way truth arises from misrecognition – the way our path toward truth coincides with the truth itself. At the beginning of this century, a Pole and a Jew were sitting in a train, facing each other. The Pole was shifting nervously, watching the Jew all the time; something was irritating him. Finally, unable to restrain himself any longer, he exploded: ‘Tell me, how do you Jews succeed in extracting from people the last small coin and in this way accumulate all your wealth?’ The Jew replied: ‘OK, I will tell you, but not for nothing; first, you give me five zloty [Polish money].’ After receiving the required amount, the Jew began: ‘First, you take a dead fish; you cut off her head and put her entrails in a glass of water. Then around midnight when the moon is full, you must bury this glass in a churchyard …’ ‘And,’ the Pole interrupted him greedily, ‘if I do all this, will I also become rich?’ ‘Not too quickly:’ replied the Jew; ‘This is not all you must do; but if you want to hear the rest, you must pay me another five zloty!’ After receiving the additional money, the Jew continued his story; soon afterward, he again demanded more money, and so on, until finally the Pole exploded in fury: ‘You dirty rascal, do you really think I did not notice what you were aiming at? There is no secret at all, you simply want to extract the last small coin from me!’ The Jew answered him ‘So now you see how we, the Jews, …’”

    [I believe the story originally appeared in That Obscure Object of Desire, but it is also in Zizek’s Jokes: (Did you hear the one about Hegel and negation?), ed. Audun Mortenson, MIT Press, 2014, p. 121-2.]

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, this is what happens when i do things from memory and don’t check. The original Zizek book is The Sublime Object of Ideology. But in my mind (whether actually in reality or not) that is a reference to Bunuel’s film, as well as to other things. And no guarantees on that being where the story showed up originally …

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The success in business is incumbent upon the use persuasion tactics and social psychology to take advantage of people’s natural tendencies. “If we can stoke the fire, the fire gives us heat”. I also cringe at the attempts people make to get an extra buck. “Why not, if we can, use people’s lack of awareness to become more successful? they’re just dumb anyway”.

    Liked by 1 person

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