One of my professors in business school utterly despised marketers. We were responsible, according to him, for every great disaster in business. Ironically, he ended up being one of my favorite professors in the program. Oddly enough, he might have even been right.
Gas prices are higher today than any time in history. Sadly, they are also closer to the minimum wage than any time since the 1930s. If you believe the media, global warming and peak oil are to blame for today's high cost of fuel. In reality, the actual effects of global warming are still several years away and peak oil is still just a theory. Oil companies today are sitting on reserves that would cover several years (decades!) of global oil production even if they stopped searching for new oil fields.
The problem is that we have marketed the dual crises of global warming and peak oil so well that everyone has heard of them. Not only that, everyone assumes they are not just knocking at the door but already seated inside at the dinner table. These are contemporary issues, but they are not as here-and-now as we marketers have made them seem to the public.
Did we lie to make them seem bigger than reality? No. All marketing messages contain some sort of exaggeration on the truth, though. Most products are really minor improvements on existing technology, though advertisements would have you believe they are major innovative breakthroughs. Why? Because you and I don't really care that the new HP printer has an extra 30 DPI of resolution. Instead, marketers add fluff to the message, repackage old equipment, and make the consumer think they're stealing something out of the 24th century.
The problem with global warming is that, for once, people actually listened to what marketers had to say. They took every word as gospel. As a result, we are halfway down the plank to an artificial depression - a market maelstrom - that I guarantee our children will laugh at us for.
Think of your own business. Do you ever blow a product's specifications just slightly out of proportion to impress a new client? Does "top of the line" really mean "top of the line?" Are the awards you attribute to your newest car model really as impressive as the shiny trophy and commercial you use to announce them? What would happen if the market took every word of your marketing message literally ... would they still be a fan of your brand, or would you end up walking all the way to the end of the plank?