In addition to being fired up about marketing, I’m also a fan of television; I DVR a whole bunch of shows and catch up when I can. Recently, a couple of popular TV shows have taken on my beloved marketing. Let’s see what ‘New Girl’ has to say on the topic, shall we?
The set-up: Perpetually adrift roommate Winston asks alpha-business guy Schmidt about his job, leading to a situation where Winston shadows Schmidt at work. The day the shadowing takes place, Schmidt is asked to show the new guy, Ed, around the office. Ed is significantly older than Schmidt and though he plays clueless, he presents Schmidt’s big idea – the one Schmidt hopes to get him a promotion – as his own. Schmidt then sabotages Ed’s presentation by making it so Ed has to use a computer instead of hard copies – problematic because Ed cannot, in fact, use the computer. Ed fakes a heart attack to get out of the meeting.
Let’s check out how realistically marketing is portrayed, in the framework of some of my favorite quotes from the episode. (Realism score based on a 1-5 scale where 1 is getting to be a CMO as a 23 year old undergrad with no experience and a Communications degree and 5 is a marketing manager painstakingly lining up boxes in a powerpoint presentation.)
“Advertising is a dog drinking beer, a fat moron falling down the stairs, a snot-nosed brat kicking his rapping grandpa in his testicles. I am in marketing, Winston, the backbone of capitalism. Without it, you’d be dead in two days.” (Schmidt)
When Winston mistakenly notes that Schmidt works in advertising, Schmidt delivers, perhaps, my favorite televised quote about marketing ever. I identify with Schmidt here – I often bristle when people assume I’m in advertising (as noted when I last spoke about ‘Mad Men’). Marketing is much larger than just advertising. And, although I wouldn’t distill advertising only to gimmicky ad campaigns, I can empathize with Schmidt’s vitriol. I’m not convinced we’d all die in two days without marketing but… I’m going to give them this one.
Realism Score: 4
“Where do we do the marketing? We do the marketing everywhere. You’re about to see life happen at the speed of business.” (Schmidt)
When arriving at the office, Winston asks where they “do the marketing”. Schmidt’s response made me crack up. We do, indeed, do the marketing everywhere. Played for laughs, sure, but no less true. I do just as much marketing from hotel arm chairs, airport gate areas, and my own couch as I do from my desk at work.
Realism Score: 5
“This is a big part of the biz, my man. Networking, face time, making deals.” (Schmidt)
Schmidt, explaining to Winston why he was taking Ed out for happy hour that afternoon. This is one of those statements that sounds so cliche, like somebody’s perception of what a marketing job entails. I’m pretty sure most marketers wouldn’t say “I’m making deals.” However, a large part of any job I’ve had has been working with people. So, though this was presented in a terribly trite way, it’s not untrue, per se.
Realism Score: 4
“If I’m going to take Gwen’s job and be the next CIO of Aztrack [I have no idea what the actual company name is] I can’t just embrace modernization. I’ve got to make babies with it; you know what I mean? It’s time to unleash my baby: micro-marketing. We target our messages to the individual consumer.” (Schmidt)
Schmidt, explaining his career plan and strategy for promotion to Ed. And this is where I thought it fell off the rails. First, based on everything we’ve seen of Schmidt at work, I would see him in a pretty junior position – ie. he still sits in a cube in an environment where individual offices seem important. I’m not sure that a C-level position is his next step. Next, if Schmidt’s a marketing guy, why is the promotion he wants CIO? Shouldn’t he be angling for a CMO position? That seems off. Additionally, micro-marketing? Really Schmidt? Your big idea is to target messages to individual consumers? That is certainly not a new concept. Perhaps he’s going to overcome some pretty barriers to implement it at his organization, but just presenting it as an idea? That’s not promotion worthy. This whole speech sounded like what somebody thought a marketer would say.
Realism Score: 2
“Big data’s knocking. Let’s open the door.” (Ed)
True! I talk all the time about how though marketing is definitely still a mix of science and art, the split is shifting more and more in favor of the science side of things. We live in a world where obtaining, housing, and analyzing data about customers is easier than it has ever been. To not take advantage of those abilities seems silly. Of course, I’m pretty sure Ed was just parroting something he heard on a Today Show segment or something, but that doesn’t make it any less true.
Realism Score: 5
“Now before I begin, my little helper here will distribute some hand outs… Well, I’m sure there’s a printer that works; I’ll just wait for the hard copies… Dum-de-dum-dum-dum.” (Ed)
So, it’s time for Ed’s presentation and Schmidt was supposed to print hand-outs for everyone, but instead loads a powerpoint presentation, causing Ed to have to fake a heart attack to get out of the meeting. Okay, really? Even if he is older, there’s no way an employee at Ed’s level at a company like the one being portrayed would not be able to use a laptop & powerpoint. Absolutely no way. Second, nobody would ever say, “Use the technology Ed,” as Schmidt’s boss did. You don’t call a laptop “technology”. Third, what kind of hand outs did Ed have? How did he create them? It must be a digital file of some sort, right? Plus, how did he learn enough about micro-marketing to put together a presentation without using a laptop? The whole thing just makes no sense.
Realism Score: 2
What do you think? Was the profession of marketing portrayed accurately? Do you think Schmidt will ever be CIO? Were you so distracted by the plot about basketball to pay attention to nit-picky details about how corporate America was presented in the episode? Let me know what you think!