Marketing executives across the country are reported to be “ecstatic” over the recent consumer revolt that prompted Pepsico to heed consumer complaints and restore the old packaging graphics to its Tropicana brand orange juice containers.
“You could hear a collective sigh of relief throughout the marketing divisions of America’s corporations,” said Robert “Bob” Sacamano, president of a major marketing services firm. “We had been concerned that the recent complete economic collapse of capitalism would herald the end of the marketing industry throughout the world. The fact that consumers facing loss of jobs and their homes could still raise a ruckus over what a container of orange juice should look like, as opposed to, say, the quality of what’s in it, demonstrates that the frivolousness of the American consumer—the very lifeblood of marketing—remains alive and well.”
Sacamano explained that marketing executives had feared the transformation of society to a survival, needs-based economy brought on by the current financial collapse from the instant-gratification one that had been fueled by brand marketers for decades would render those marketers irrelevant.
“You don’t need to market bottled water to someone dying of thirst, now do you?” Sacamano asked rhetorically. He also believed the level of anger and indignation expressed by consumers over a simple change in packaging seemed more hysterical than that expressed by taxpayers over giving Wall Street bankers tax money which they then used to pay themselves bonuses as a reward for wrecking the global economy.”
“Pepsico executives reacted as if consumers had put a gun to their heads,” said Sacamano. “You didn’t see any bankers acting that way as they pocketed government money and went jetting off to Vegas to celebrate.”
Sacamano said the emergence of a “new economy” based on just getting by and perhaps re-emphasizing family and personal relationships over frenzied, mindless consumer spending would destroy marketing as an industry.
“If the country suddenly starts to act like a real-life Norman Rockwell painting, we’re cooked,” Sacamano mused. “There’s nothing in there that can be exploited with a sales angle.”
Sacamano pointed to the impending collapse of the U.S. auto industry as a cautionary tale for the marketers.
“Look how long we were able to foist chrome and fins over quality and efficiency in making our auto industry the envy of the world,” Sacamano said. “Now buyers are looking for basic, efficient and less expensive modes of transportation. How do you brand common sense? I mean, there’s serious talk about resurrecting the railroads in this country! What’s next? Home cooked meals with basic ingredients like rice and meat and vegetables made with grandma’s recipes and everybody in the family participating in meal making instead of sitting and watching ads on TV? This is a nightmare scenario and it could happen. Talk about your Great Depression.”
Sacamano said marketers should take solace in some of the e-mails sent to Pepsico that stated how the new carton was “ugly” or “stupid” and how they just “stink.”
“No matter how good a marketer you are, you just can’t conjure that kind of shallowness and superficiality out of thin air,” said Sacamano. It has to be ingrained in the culture before people like myself can work our magic.”
Sacamano said he hopes the Tropicana flap is a harbinger of things to come.
“It’s insatiable materialism that’s made this country what it is today,” Sacamano said, without a trace of irony.