Are we experiencing a pander epidemic?
By now, we’re used to marketers preying on our insecurities and making promises that we will be thinner, smarter, more attractive to the opposite sex or whatever it is we don’t like about ourselves. Yet the gap between the hype and the reality seems to be growing.
By now, we’ve come to expect most brands to attempt to seduce us with deep discounts or some sort of special offer. But frequently the invitation is better than the party. Often when the hot deal goes away so does our business. And, despite many of these offers being fundamentally uneconomic, companies go back to the well over and over, more and more.
By now, we are quite familiar with politicians trying to appeal to our basest instincts. But the antics of Donald Trump have certainly taken us to new depths. Regardless of the growing chorus of outrage, the rhetoric only seems to get dialed up to 11.
Of course, people and organizations pander because it works. That is, until it inevitably doesn’t.
There is no doubt that more than a handle of people are comfortable staying in their cocoon of ignorance. There clearly are folks who have little or no ability to get beyond their most primal and visceral impulses (my best guess–based upon the most recent polls–is that it’s about 35% of Republicans. But I digress).
Fortunately, most people only get fooled once or twice before recalibrating. Most of us eventually see past the fascade. Few of us confuse bribery with loyalty for very long.
But in an ever noisier and more confusing world it seems like the tendency is to lay on the hype. To shout louder. To desperately chase the promiscuous shopper. To pander more.
But if we know that authenticity will ultimately shine through, that the truth eventually wins out, that buying business has a relatively short shelf life, why not eschew pandering right from the start? And if we find ourselves engaged in a bit of pandering right now, why not stop?
h/t to Stephen Colbert for the title inspiration.