Ian commented recently that the marketing people in the Bay area certainly know how to get deep inside their audience’s psyches. I’d bought him a packet of crisps that sold itself on its gluten-free credentials, high level of antioxidants, good quality fibre, essential omega 3 fats and truckload of protein to keep him going through that work slump. That’s music to the ear of any Mill Valley parent, a place where health is so important that the de facto mother’s uniform is gym clothing, running clothing or hiking clothing; a place that, despite having only 10,000 inhabitants, can support two WholeFoods supermarkets and four customised bike shops; a place where even disposable cutlery is biodegradable.
Ian then mentioned that the shampoo I’d bought was full of marketing twaddle too.
(At this point in the story, in anticipation of what’s to come and in the spirit of full disclosure, I should point out that I’m aware that what I’m about to say will cast me absolutely, irrevocably, into the realms of what some might see as utter lunacy. That’s OK. Feel free to join me here.)
I told Ian that when I was looking for shampoo, I asked the salesperson in the WholeFoods toiletries aisle to point me towards an organic one. She showed me a whole stack of shelves. So, to limit my choices further, I asked if any of those shampoos contained oil and could prevent my hair from drying out. No problem; now my selection was down to one shelf’s worth. So, realising that this salesperson Understood Me, I asked for one that had a biodynamic element to it – one that could have a kind of conversation with my hair [cue Ian shaking his head in disbelief at this stage of the story]. Now my options were reduced to 3 or 4 and I read the ingredients of each with excitement. The result is an organic shampoo with Argan oil and stem cells. At no point in this exchange did the salesperson look at me as if I was nuts. Or unusual. And the vast array of options validates my point that I was not.
Which begs the question: if the packet of crisps or shampoo had been marketed in Los Angeles, would the marketing gurus simply have claimed that they could make you thin?