Earlier I talked about Marx’s real purpose. He was a scholar, not a politician, and he was trying to disprove the economist theory of marginal utility. In theory every product is identical except for price, and consumers choose products SOLELY on price. The real world doesn’t work that way. Every product is different, just as every person is different.
The Budweiser fiasco disproves the economist theory from a different angle. Even when products are PHYSICALLY identical, like beer, the brands are different AS SEEN BY THE CUSTOMER.
Before this year, Budweiser wasn’t really trying to establish a cultural connection. Their customers had gradually and naturally developed a sense of comfort with the brand. This year Bud slapped their customers in the face, instantly creating a NEGATIVE cultural connection.
Duane Jones had a story for this point. When a would-be client for his ad agency doubted the power of advertising, Jones said:
“Imagine you’re running a hotel. Would you place a full-page ad in the local paper saying OUR HOTEL HAS BEDBUGS!”
“Of course not!”
“Well, you just proved the value of advertising.”
And that’s what Budweiser did. The managers lived solely inside the high-status world of Share Value. They had ZERO EMPATHY for normal people. They COULDN’T IMAGINE that their favorite things look like BEDBUGS to their customers. They proved the value of advertising.
Ford made the same mistake in both directions at once. As of 1950, Mercury and Lincoln had established natural cultural connections based on customer and reviewer experience. Lincoln was luxury with styling ahead of the curve. Mercury was a hot rod. In the ’50s Ford tried to establish Lincoln as a hot rod, and tried to establish Mercury as the avant garde space-age car. Both appeals were seen as bedbugs by the opposite sets of customers.