We Marketers Are Lennie Small

I will love my mix, squeeze it, and name it George.

Oh the irony of thinking back on “Oh Mice and Men,” as we face an economic meltdown… A financial catastrophe being celebrated by the media (and even pessimists who aren’t currently employed in media) as “the worst since the Great Depression.”

You see, Steibeck’s “Of Mice and Men,” placed George Milton and his large but limited friend, Lennie, lived in The Great Depression — which was like “Speed 2” if movies became life.

And just like Lennie (and subsequently Hugo, the Bugs Bunny version of the abominable snowman) liked to stroke and hug bunnies to death, we marketers are no better.

Yeah, but only the fuzzy little animal we’re crushing to death is the limited credibility and attention we have with consumers. Before I portray our cycle of despair, let me credit the inspiration of this post. A colleague (who happens to be going through a merger like me, but he’s on the bottom), sent me this article by AdWeek titled “Social Nets Overtake eMail.” Seems we’re spending more time engaged in such social media sites as Fakebook, YouBube , Twizzler and WillVideoForFood… even more time than on e-mail itself. And twice that of using Listservs and news groups.

My first reaction was “yeah, no shit.” But then I realized that most marketers who know this aren’t e-mailing their less savvy bosses, who are setting marketing strategy and budgets. I dare you to send this post to that technophobe who calls you his “direct report.” For the record, my own boss and his boss are passionate about digital, and I can only partially attribute that to me.

So here’s part of a natural cycle, and we’ll “rinse or repeat” until we figure out how marketing and social media and entertainment can co-exist peacefully. Mass media, push marketing worked for a while. Now not so much. But we’ll keep trying, because we like controlling the message. Eventually consumers tune us out. So we chase them into social media using the same elegance of a 30-second spot. 

Now we’re just coupons at a rave. And I haven’t attended a rave yet, but I’m pretty sure nobody’s looking at the coupons on the rave table (assuming it’s not knocked down, as I imagine happens to tables at a rave).

Then again, if my profession has to become a literary figure, what more could I hope for?


  1. Yeah, I didn’t read it either, but there’s a Wickipedia page now so kids don’t have to buy Cliff Notes the night before he test. And I probably would have long forgotten that I didn’t read this book if it wasn’t for Season 3 of Lost.
  2. Don’t accidentally try Googling “abdominal snowman” when you mean “abominable.”

32 Replies to “We Marketers Are Lennie Small”

  1. You owe me $18 dollars.


    So glad Jo likes her new office. Bah ha. 🙂

    How fun was that?!

  2. no one’s spending, everyone is saving or paying down debt. Newspapers and magazines are going under; no one is advertising, stress is high and men are losing their hair in clumps

    When the family farmers are forced off their land, when manufacturing is shipped overseas, when pushing around monopoly money is valued more than a hard days work, when education is no longer about knowledge, but passing a test or getting to the next pay grade this is what happens.

    how do you monetize that?
    make a video

    ya know I really like you people.

    and I too was hoping for more news about the merger as well.


  3. @6: I was just discussing the ramifications of the last 8 years with my son yesterday, and you’ve summed it up pretty well. Except you forgot to mention that deregulation has caused bad peanut butter, among other things.

    Oh, and Nalts; I just sent you that social networking article. I read it this morning and thought of you. Guess your colleague saw it before me.

  4. Deregulation proves that American businessmen are greedy and evil swindlers. Government regulation just proves that while American businessmen are still greedy and evil swindlers, government employees are corrupt and negligent. Regulation just increases the potential population of hell. It doesn’t change the nature of American businessmen.

  5. @8 so what you’re saying is all the American People are greedy, evil, corrupt and negligent swindlers, right? At least the majority must be because the government belongs to The People and so far I’ve heard bupkis.

    Got any solutions besides looking to God?

  6. The answer is simple: a sports team mascot sacrifice to the god(s) of every religion. One is bound to write back, right? I mean mascots are the joy of the world. If we sacrifice them, they’ll know we truly need the help.

  7. 1. @14 does this answer make you one of the people who are greedy, evil, corrupt, negligent swindlers?

    2. @15 not YOUR yob man.

    3. @16 and how does bitching about everyone else help?

    4. @17 oh, please save the platitudes for your videos and give me something practical to work with here!

    5. @18 man, that’s just poor marketing, no t-shirts or cap if I find it?

    6. @ 20 I thought Nietzsche stabbed and killed that image over a century ago. How can you believe in an hierarchical order than have such a nihilistic view of corporate American? That reminds me I have to call my Congressional Rep today – you should too [click]

    @21 I’d pay to see that! But can we do it Roman Colosseum style? I can see it now… battle of the Mascot Gladiators on You Tube!

  8. 1. Yup.
    2. I’m freelancing.
    3. My question exactly.
    4. I thought this was the department of flippant responses. No? (At least I HAVE videos).
    5. Those who can’t do, teach.
    6. Nope.

  9. @23

    1. that reply should put an end to this discussion right here and now, but…
    2. I’m reporting you to the United Maryland Spellingnazi Union. Expect red tape. Lots of it!
    3. That answer doesn’t cut the mustard. Pure obfuscation.
    4. Could be, have to ask management. and don’t wave your guns at me I’ve got plenty under my belt, just because I choose to carry a silencer and not exploit them like some motel crack whore doesn’t mean I don’t HAVE any. In fact, I’m working on a new series and I might even share, soon as I get a camera.
    5. see #2
    6. That’s how we get into these messes lack of participation by the constituents in the system. Turn onto politics before it turns on you! oops! too late! See, it’s all your fault! I knew I could blame someone here, eventually.

  10. @27 do I detect a tone of sarcasm here?

    honestly I’m beginning to think I live in a country of knuckle draggers.

    maybe someone can explain to me why it’s so difficult for so many Americans to call or e-mail their representatives in Congress? It’s not like one has to hitch the covered wagon and traverse a season to make their way to DC in order to speak their mind.

    I don’t get it?
    What new and cool cultural attitude did I miss here?
    Is Armageddon in again?
    In my little book of justices not participating in the system is how the people lose and the bad guys win.

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