Marketing Association Amsterdam

Politicians and marketers: two peas in a pod?

As a person, organization or company you make marketing decisions, based on what you want others to perceive about you. You bring to light to what you want to talk about, to convince them of something. This can be an idea, a product or a lifestyle; but in any case, you are trying to sell someone something. Take, for example, the elections that are heating up now in the States. Every single presidential candidate is trying to sell us his or her ideas for a better world, whilst firing viciously at those of their opponent’s. They choose to advertise with certain things (sometimes lies), rather than others, to win people over. This sort of thing happens all the time.


The other day I came across an article, that discussed the motion to build new windmills (no- not the old fashioned kind; the new, sustainable-energy kind) off the West coast of the Netherlands. Regional governments are lobbying against the project, claiming it would be detrimental to the neighbourhood tourist attractions and would therefore cost 6,000 locals their job.

An investigation was launched, ‘proving’ that 17-20% of tourists would stay away from the areas, if the windmills were built within 22 km of the coastline. The House of Representatives responded by commissioning another investigation, that ‘proved’ only 0-10% of tourists would stay away, and would redistribute themselves to other Dutch travel destinations. The build would create 1,200 temporary- and 475 permanent positions. How did both parties come to such opposite conclusions? They say you find what you are looking for, and it seems to be true here… Both the House of Representatives, as well as the local governments are using different research reports to sell their perspective on the build of new windmill farms.


You might still be wondering why I’m talking about all of these matters of state and nation… I am, because thinking about cases like this, I don’t think I have ever seen such a clear connection between marketing and politics. In both fields, we are simply trying to sell something. Sometimes by exaggerating things, undervaluing things, or fabricating things. And that’s why there are so many that are sceptical of these two fields of expertise.. I guess sometimes I bend the truth a little, but never too much: if I tell someone a lie to convince them to buy something, that doesn’t really build a lasting customer relationship, does it? And in the end, you want lasting marketing effect, rather than short spikes in sales. Then again, don’t politicians want continuing support as well? Who do you think bends the rules of reality more; us (the marketeers) or them (the politicians)?

Written by: Susanne ten Brink


Image credit:
Photographer No.9 via flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)
DonkeyHotey via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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