S02E01 – Saying No To Pulling The Wool Over People’s Eyes

Talking About Marketing Podcast by Steve Davis and David Olney

The marketing rebellion is here. Are you with us?

This is an important start to our second season. Through the Marketing Rebellion book by Mark Schaeffer, we are all reminded that we control only a small slither of our branding efforts.

Customers rule the world.

We explain in more detail, along with poking fun at stuffy branding agencies, making notes about the upcoming change to Google Analytics, and reflecting on whether or not the University Of Adelaide's 2016 campaign, Seek Light, actually lit a fire for their enrolments.

Talking About Marketing podcast episode notes with timecodes

01:39  Person  This segment focusses on you, the person, because we believe business is personal.

When Branding Goes Bad

Over summer I listened to some old (2020) episodes of Very Bad Wizards, a podcast featuring a philosopher (Tamler Sommers) and a psychologist (David Pizarro), and they took a blowtorch of cynicism to the newly announced University of Oregon branding document.

I mention this because as people in our business, we are often our brands and we can feel inferior next to "big brands" so I thought I'd start with a little taste of how these two professors mocked pretentious branding, when the University Of Oregon released its branding kit.

Here are some of the sections that David Olney and I then lampooned. Jeez. The pretension!


We never take our eyes off the horizon. We exist to help push humanity forward. To pass on a better world than we inherited. We don’t just lift up the people around us, we build stairways so the next generation can climb even higher.


Ever notice how purely itself nature is? A tree is a tree; it doesn’t try to be anything else. As always, we take our example from nature.  Sometimes we’re intense and focused. Sometimes we’re relaxed and approachable. Either way, we don’t try to force it. We just are.


Everyone has an irreplaceable gift to offer. Corny, but astoundingly true. Inclusion means more than just acceptance, though. It means welcoming everyone into the room. And listening. And supporting. And collaborating. And celebrating their uniqueness.


You know when you crest the summit and catch that first glimpse of the whole world laid out at your feet? Yeah, that feeling. We never stop chasing it. Our hunger for the extraordinary is what makes us… well, extraordinary.


We love research that raises eyebrows. Insights that spark new perspectives. Solutions that defy old assumptions. And don’t even get us started on art. Surprise disrupts our thinking, opening space for new ideas. It’s why we sometimes zag when others zig.


We know who we are, and we call it like we see it. But never in a rude way. Bold is what you get when you combine self-confidence with respect for others. We speak courageously, take risks, and stand up for what we believe. We’re not arrogant or conceited, but we do swagger sometimes.

What's the main point for us? Be yourself. Even if that self aligns with how we want our brand to per perceived. We are unlikely to have that disconnect that big brands have.

13:36  Principles  This segment focusses principles you can apply in your business today.

Will You Join The Marketing Rebellion?

In his book, Marketing Rebellion, Mark Schaeffer, talks about the current state of marketing as being one that comes at the end of lies, the end of secrets, and the end of control.

David Olney explains this in more detail in our discussion.

He also references, the author, Pulizzi, who argued for the concept of "audience first".

In other words, as Adelaide Fringe artists are noticing at the moment as The Advertiser stops doing reviews and other media outlets all seem to be favouring their advertising-supported shows, you need an audience before you sell a product or stage a production.]

David also shares an insight from his partner, Karen, whose embroidery group embodies this wisdom.

27:46  Problems  This segment answers questions we've received from clients or listeners.

Give In To Google Re Analytics

Amid the upcoming end of Universal Analytics also known as Google Analytics 3, comes much worry about what to do to maintain reporting of visitor behaviour on websites.

Steve's big tip: Google is offering to migrate your old GA3 Universal Analytics to GA4 and if you have not set up GA4 and done very little with analytics, then let Google go for it.

If you put effort into GA4 set up, then go into your current GA3 accounts and in the GA4 Set Up Assistant, click into it, scroll down and turn off the offer of transition.

31:14  Perspicacity  This segment is designed to sharpen our thinking by reflecting on a case stude from the past.

Have You Seen The Light?

For our glance back to our past this episode, we discuss the University Of Adelaide's 2016 campaign, Seek Light.

David Olney has particular insights because he was a lecturer at the university then.

As a side note, our editor, Tim, was a student at the university then and features in the ad and its thumbnail cover image on YouTube.

The question is, did this mysterious and supposedly uplifting/inspirational campaign lead to more enrolments?

As far as David recalls, the answer was no.

And the reason: students were contemplating large HECS debts. They needed more than vague allusions about seeking knowledge (something applicable to all universities) to let it sway their decisions.

TRANSCRIPT  This is a transcript of the episode. Please note, although checked briefly, this was crafted by an AI tool and will contain errors. For quoting purposes, always check against the original audio.

Caitlin Davis: [00:00:00] Talking about marketing is a podcast for business owners and leaders, produced by my dad, Steve Davis, and his colleague at Talked About Marketing, David Olney, in which they explore marketing through the lens of their own four P's, person, principles, problems, and perspicacity. Yes, you heard that correctly.

Apart from their love of words, they really love helping people, so they hope this podcast will become a trusted companion on your journey in business.

Steve Davis: David, at the time of recording this episode of talking about marketing, Adelaide is embraced in a. 40 degree heat wave so wool is the last thing I want next to my body But pulling wool over people's eyes or something else.

David Olney: We're spurning [00:01:00] Absolutely, like if you don't want it on top of you on a 30 degree night You also don't want it, you know down to your nose any day where you're looking to see what's in front of you.

Steve Davis: So let's wipe it away right now push it aside and let's get ready for our first episode of the second series of Talking About Marketing.

Our four P's. Number one, person. The aim of life is self development. To realise one's nature perfectly. That is what each of us is here for. Oscar Wilde.

We're recording this just after we've had a summer break, and I took the opportunity to listen to some back catalogue episodes of podcasts, as well as listen to a number of audiobooks David, I'll hasten to add. However, one of them really... Made me think of a small business person we work with someone running a [00:02:00] small to medium enterprise and the difference between what it means to think about your branding or yourself for your business and what it looks like from a corporate perspective.

There's a podcast called very bad wizards. And it features a philosopher, Tamla Summers, and a psychologist, David Pizarro. Look, they're pretty funny, and they can be cynical from time to time when they detect people are putting on the airs and graces. They're both tenured professors, they know their stuff, but they are still grounded as humans.

In this particular episode, which is from June of 2020, they were looking at the newly released Then, Branding and Style Guide by the University of Oregon in America. The reason why I wanted to mention this in the personal, the person segment, is just to take that [00:03:00] psychological pressure off that it can be tempting from the small end of town to look at big corporates and think, Oh, we can never be branded like, like them.

Look how polished they are. These two gentlemen remind us that Polish in inverted commas does come with the payload of skepticism and cynicism. Do you get that as well, David?

David Olney: I can't help but think about the wonderful episode of Mythbusters where they discovered you can polish poo. And they worked out that lion poo is the most polishable poo of all because of the high protein level.

And I would say the bigger the organization, the more protein there is to polish.

Steve Davis: Well, there you go. Nothing like a bit of raw data. Let's go. I just want to read. Look, we're going to have a listen. To a little bit of them, like a lion with a prey, tearing this branding document apart, but just to set it up, they read in a voice dripping [00:04:00] with mockery, the, the opening statement.

Podcast: Very bad wizards: Brand and style is how it's titled. And it, it leads off with this. The University of Oregon brand is not something that marketers or communicators made. It's something the university itself made, the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community over the course of its entire history. So it just starts out with like a transparent lie, right?

Like, or at least. Clay.

Well, given that the university has been around for all this time and that the culture must have been shaped by all that time, therefore we can say that it's the entire history that's influencing the brand.

I mean, you can say that, but like these people have been brought in from outside.

They say that they've interviewed or know that, that, that base, this is based on what dozens. of [00:05:00] students, faculty, and staff members told us about the University of Oregon. So these are people from outside who interviewed dozens of people to find out what the University of Oregon brand is for their, over the course of its entire history.

And they say in order to develop a brand that's able to flex for different audiences, that's probably a word, like some sort of buzzword, we had to first define the general tone of our messaging, a baseline personality, if you will, like, I don't even know what, like, I, I. I can't say I will because I don't know what that means.

Like a baseline personality. So we started by identifying several qualities that are or should be consistently used as descriptors for our brand. So again, now they're saying like, it should be if, if they're not already. And they, and they selected six words and these words are. [00:06:00] Irreverent, progressive, extraordinary, alive, natural, and inclusive, and then they go through, I kind of feel like we should just go through what they say about it.

Yeah, and I think that, that we'll obviously put a link to this in, in our show notes, but the graphic already, is made to look like an equalizer, like a, a stereo equalizer with, with each of the words being on a lever that you can push up or down, which they, they go on to actually use that metaphor.

Yeah, exactly. It's like moral foundations theory. Oh god. So the first is irreverent. No, this character quality doesn't mean we should ever be dis disrespectful or disparaging. Like, who's the no for? So, so playful. It reminds us that our brand should not shrink from being bold, unexpected, and fearless about challenging...

Convention. We can dial this quality up to create messaging for prospective and [00:07:00] current students or dial it down for peer, donor, and key opinion leader audiences. So like for, for, for the, for the kind of racist alumni, like maybe tone down the irreverence that the bold, unexpected fearless.

Steve Davis: All right. So it's knives out already and you can

David Olney: Or polishing cloth

Steve Davis: Or polishing cloth. And you can sense that their cynicism, when they think a brand needs to be able to flex for different audiences, they're basically equating that to lying about who you are. Although they do acknowledge that in the normal cut and thrust of data life, we have different selves we bring to different interactions.

We all do, don't we?

David Olney: Yeah, but they're talking about some sort of reflective compartmentalization, when eventually one mirror is reflecting off another mirror, is reflecting off another mirror, is reflecting off another mirror, and we can no longer tell where the sheep ends and where the poo [00:08:00] starts.

All right, well let's have a look at some of them, because I just love the way this is worded, not, there's no way we'd write this for our people.

So one of the qualities they talk about is, let's have a look. Natural. That's one of the brand values that they've identified. How's this for what is written by these very high priced consultants? Natural. Ever notice how purely itself nature is? A tree is a tree. It doesn't try to be anything else. As always, we take our examples from nature.

Sometimes we're intense and focused, sometimes we're relaxed and approachable. Either way, we don't try to force it. We just are. You like that, David?

I think it's how most university students wish uni was, so they could get rid of essays and exams, because they would just be busy being, and the university could assess them on being busy being, rather than [00:09:00] doing.

Steve Davis: And a couple other choice bits here, I think is right. Inclusive. Everyone has an irreplaceable gift to offer. Corny, but astoundingly true. So just, just that wording that runs all through it. Another one? Extraordinary. You know when you crest the summit and catch that first glimpse of the whole world laid out at your feet?

Yeah, that feeling. We never stop chasing at. Our hunger for the extraordinary is what makes us, well, extraordinary. Is that talking in circles?

David Olney: The really sad thing with all of this is... If they just let some of the inspired teachers, the inspired librarians, the inspired researchers, the inspired postgrads, the inspired undergraduates who got to the university and then found they could do things [00:10:00] that made them happy and changed the world, they would get all of this in a real accessible version rather than just Kill whatever the university is under spin.

Steve Davis: Yeah, and look, one last one Bold. We know who we are, and we call it like we see it, but never in a rude way. Bold is what you get when you combine self confidence with respect for others. We speak courageously, take risks, and stand up for what we believe. We're not arrogant or conceited, but we do swagger sometimes.

David Olney: We are blue until we're green, until we're red, until we're purple.

Steve Davis: Anyway, I thought just to kick off our new season, a little chance to have a bit of fun at the expense of the big end of town when they're bending over backwards to try and be authentic in going through all these convoluted ring jumping.

The main point for us really is if we [00:11:00] are our entity, so if a solo entrepreneur is The whole thing. Or we have a small team around us, a small organization, small business, medium sized. If we have worked out what are the values are that we want to be known for, the way we want to be perceived, and we can align ourselves with that, we can be ourselves.

We don't have to have these highfalutin, hightootin bits of terminology. Could you, could you imagine anyone with a straight face speaking any of that? in a natural conversation, David.

David Olney: This is the problem with things like this. If you know what your values are, it becomes easy to talk about almost everything, because you know from what position you're grounded.

Whereas if you just keep putting layers of mirror on top of things, everyone's going to lose interest really quick. And I'm not sure how you would even remember what you said, or what the implication was.

Steve Davis: Exactly. So [00:12:00] there you go. Something to ponder. Be yourself. Everyone else is taken. Who said that? I think it was Oscar Wilde.

Caitlin Davis: Our four Ps. Number two. Principles. You can never be overdressed or over educated. Oscar Wilde.

Steve Davis: I mentioned earlier that I consumed a few audio books over summer and one of them at your recommendation, David, was Marketing Rebellion by Mark Schaefer. Would you like to tell me why you were so passionate about me taking a few hours out of my life to consume it?

David Olney: What I really like about Mark Schaeffer's book, it was one of the first major books I found when I was getting ready to write my master's thesis on inbound marketing last year, and I liked the fact that he.

Made it clear, literally in the first 10 minutes of the audio book, most things in [00:13:00] marketing have changed dramatically in the last 20 years, and he's someone with at least 30 years experience, probably closer to 40 actually now, and he made the point that when he goes to meetings with senior marketing people across the world, they keep wondering why what they do doesn't work.

And he thought, well, I'm going to go away, instead of telling you in the meetings, one person at a time, why things you're doing don't work, I'm going to go away and get all the evidence, and write up, this is why things don't work anymore, this is what might work. This is what does work and summarize it all down to whatever it is, five hours, which I think is probably the clearest and most concise reconception of where marketing is today that I think anyone's ever written.

Mark Schaefer's Book: Marketing Rebellion: Everywhere I went in the world, marketing executives were telling me that they felt stuck and they felt lost and their marketing [00:14:00] wasn't working like it used to. And so I got. Sort of obsessed with this and went down the rabbit hole to figure out what's going on here. And my original thesis was that technology is moving so fast that we're feeling overwhelmed.

But when I got into the research, I mean, certainly that's part of it, but. A bigger piece is what I found is that technology hasn't really moved so much away from us as our customers are our hyper empowered tech enabled customers have just moved to a different place where their expectations of businesses and brands.

Are a lot different than what brands are delivering. And when you really dig into the research, a lot of the things that we've loved and held dear to us in marketing are sort of evaporating. You know, number one is a lot of our traditional marketing doesn't work like it used to. It's not being seen like it used to advertising and PR and [00:15:00] marketing communications.

People are sort of blind to this or they're blocking it. Loyalty is in decline. 87% of our customers are shop around customers. This is a dramatic change over the last 20 to 25 years. And so I build a case to say the customers are rejecting what we're doing. And two thirds of our marketing is occurring without us.

The customers are carrying the story forward. The customers are the marketers. A brand used to be. What we told people it was today. A brand is what people tell each other. So my challenge in the book and the thesis of the book is how do you get invited to that 2 3rds? That's where the actions taking place and that 2 3rds is just going to get bigger.

We don't have a choice. We need to understand this. We need to look at our options. We need to [00:16:00] reimagine. What marketing could be what it should be, and it needs to, we need to take a more human centered approach

Steve Davis: Along that way in the book. And it's, it is worth a read. He does capture the flex. I'll use that word, the flex points of marketing. And I think it gets succinctly distilled into the end of lies, the end of secrets, the end of control. Do you want to just flesh that out a bit for us?

David Olney: Absolutely. So, as far as Mark Schaeffer's concerned, there's been three pivot points, and you can't get them down to an exact time or place.

You can get them down to general time and place. So, the first one was turn of the, you know, 19th, 20th century, early 20th century, where marketers would just lie, bold faced lie. And more and more consumers and newspapers started saying, no, this is unacceptable, and made so much noise about it, that for the first time ever, [00:17:00] the marketing industry was forced to tighten up, telling lies.

That was the first really big leap. The second big leap came along probably predominantly in the 1990s with the beginning of the internet. And that was the end of secrets. You can want to hide something from your customers, but inevitably in a world where employees are not necessarily loyal, customers are very interested in understanding companies, once a dirty secret gets out, that secret You know, spreads like wildfire, and all your consumers potentially go, well, I don't want to interact with that company.

So a very good example he uses in the book is McDonald's knowing how bad their junk food was for people in the 1990s, and having documents all about this, that then eventually got found and shared across the newly formed internet. And for the first time ever, McDonald's [00:18:00] sales crashed. And they had to reconsider what kind of products they had.

So you couldn't hide a secret anymore because whether it was staff or interested customers or advocates or consumer protection people, someone was going to find the secret. The third critical section of the book is the end of control. And it goes back to our first segment today. People believe they can control their brand.

They think if they polish the image enough, if they get the perfect logo, if they get the, you know, the perfect tag, the perfect catchphrase, that that will somehow define the brand in the way they want. And what Mark Schaeffer was arguing was, well, even when we only had the internet in the 1990s, This was beginning to change, but once we had review websites and social media in the early 2000s leading up to 2010, this is really the change of everything because now, [00:19:00] if someone writes a review of how bad a product or a service was, and 100 people agree with them and add comments, it doesn't matter what branding document you've got, the reality is your customers It's are talking about how bad the product and service was and the rest of us are searching for what people think of your product or service because we find the pointless spin of your branding annoying.

It's not giving us real information and if we can't get real information from you, the brand, we will go and find out what users think and it's the users that have control over your brand identity.

Steve Davis: In many ways it seems to be a variation of that model. That the U. S. is known for, in particular, where in restaurants and bars, the staff, the hospo staff, basically exist on gratuities.

If they don't get a tip, they don't get paid. I've got different views on whether that's a great model or not, [00:20:00] because it, it all gets institutionalized and tips get added automatically, et cetera. It's not like it's meant in purity, but in its purest sense, in its ideal sense, you as a waiter. We'll do your best to service and make your customer happy genuinely, because then you will earn in that case, the tip, the money here, what we're saying, correct me if I'm wrong, but this is how I'm grasping it.

This new era that Mark Schafer is pointing to is just the veil has been. Torn away. Business has actually been like this for a while, but the tools now have caught up so that as you perform with each and every person you connect with, they will share their gratuity, positive or negative, for the world.

And that really depends on how you get paid in the future.

David Olney: Absolutely. And it comes back to where we were talking about a small organization or company having a core set of values is the best way to do well in [00:21:00] this new environment is to have everyone functioning from the same set of values. So even though there's going to be differences in people's experience of the product and the service, they're not going to be radically different because we're all on the same page about what we want the business to be and how we want to behave.

Steve Davis: Interestingly, this is not just some highfalutin, city slicker, kind of fancy approach to marketing either. I'm at the time of recording, working with West Coast Autos in Ceduna. And, and we're helping refresh their website and, and solidify their presence there. And I am blown away by all the five star reviews.

Unprompted that Facebook and Google is groaning with, and there's a common theme. Someone, typically a lot of people have broken down either side of facing the Nullarbor or their locals. And they've just the attention to detail where Pete and the team [00:22:00] have gone that little bit further. They've tried hard.

They've moved heaven and earth. They've They've given good advice, they've improvised where certain solutions weren't easy to achieve, and people said, look, this is not the cheapest mechanical workshop you go to, but they care, they get it done, they try. And to me, This is exactly what Mark Schafer is talking about.

David Olney: Absolutely. And if you look at his sort of three word summary or three keyword summary that comes up time and time again later in the book, what is true a long time ago before marketing got so big and what is true again now that marketing is everywhere is that we buy from people we know, we like, and we trust.

So the job of your marketing people. Is to make sure people can know you, people can see the reviews so they know that people like you and that they can see the reasons why they can trust you. So you can speed up the process of being known, liked and trusted. That's the [00:23:00] principal thing that matters now for your marketing people to do for you.

Steve Davis: And that is also connecting to Pulitzer and building your audience first Working with some people in the fringe at the moment Fringe artists find that it's a hard slog unless you already have an audience established to try and get those tickets sold and You were talking also David about your partner Karen encountering this in an embroidery group she was part of.

David Olney: Yeah, really what you see almost everywhere now is if someone's got a good idea, provide a good freemium product or some advice or some help to people to get them interested to build up a community. And Karen had the experience of joining an embroidery group on Facebook where the community got built before there was any product for sale.

The lady was offering to help people learn to do certain embroidering stitches before there was any need for them to put their hand in their pocket. So that. If they want to learn more, they [00:24:00] understand the value of working with this particular embroidery artist. And it's such a good model. And I was saying to Steve before we recorded too, that one of my former students, Jack Holloway, who is brilliant at building up really complex digital images, has been more and more engaging with the audience.

Who love this kind of very complex fantasy and science fiction based digital imagery and helping them work on how to get things looking better, how to present them in really good ways. And the more he's helped to build an audience and relate to other people, now the more audience he's getting for his own photos.

So it really is a thing, you know, Joe Pulizzi has made a lot of money off of this and written a very good book on it, where possible, work on building your audience before you even decide what product or service you're going to sell them.

Steve Davis: So let's boil this down to some takeaways. What should our dear listener do at the helm of a small or medium enterprise [00:25:00] or organization to take Mark Schaeffer's insights of marketing rebellion to heart?

David Olney: Your aim is to work out a set of values that you and your staff can work by that mean you will behave consistently and in a way you all respect and are proud of that will help your audience and their customers. To know, like, and trust you. That's really the pieces in the right order. It's fairly small, but its impact is huge.

Steve Davis: And as far as a checklist is concerned internally, if, if, if there's something that's happening that you feel is continually being suboptimal, then we need to be putting that in the harsh light of our attention to correct it because we can't pull the wool over anyone's eyes, they can let the world know that it's missing the target.

David Olney: No lies, no secrets, and remember, you don't have control of how people perceive you. You only have control [00:26:00] over how you're going to try and behave as an individual and as a group to win their trust.

Steve Davis: Wow. Sobering and exciting at the same time. Thanks, David. Thank you.

Caitlin Davis: Our four P's. Number three, Problems. I asked a question for the best reason possible. Simple curiosity. Oscar Wilde.

Steve Davis: For the problems segment, I just want to return to Google Analytics. We've put some posts up over the break in between series one and series two at the time of this, which is February 2023. Google is on the verge of automatically offering to transition your current Google 3, also known as Universal Analytics or UA account into the new GA4, Google Analytics 4, and I just have one [00:27:00] little rule of thumb because it does sound enticing that Google will just do this for us.

In essence. As of the end of June of 2023, Universal Analytics GA3 will no longer be operating. Everything, if you want any data and insights from Google's analytics packages, you'll need to make sure that your account Is a Google for a Google analytics for account. So what do we do with this offer? Well, here's the thing.

If you have with us or yourself work through and developed a Google analytics for account and put in some customizations before this point in time, then when Google comes through and offers to update your current. Google three account to four, please opt. Out. You can do that inside your Google Analytics.

In particular, if you go into your [00:28:00] Google Analytics account, look at your property settings for each UA account, GA three account. There is a thing in there that you'll see, which is called the GA four setup assistant. Click into that, scroll down to the bottom, and turn off the offer of being transitioned automatically.

You do not want that because otherwise, Your new GA4 will suddenly be met by a GA3 account becoming GA4. So I don't want to get too bogged down in, because this could sound like a whole lot of gibberish. Long and short of it is, if you are coasting along, and look at this point in time, honestly, you haven't done much with your Google Analytics, and you're not alone.

I would say. A good 90% minimum of small to medium enterprises are like that. Then let Google do its bit for you and transition. And then we can pick up the pieces for you at some point in the future. But if you have already been proactive, just opt out of the free [00:29:00] transition. Few. I hope that made sense.

If, if that was a little bit overwhelming just rewind and have a listen to that segment again. It's as clear as I've been able to make it at this point. And of course, you can always reach out and tap us on the shoulder and see if we can step in and help you, but have another listen. Even slow the speed down if you like and just remember, it boils down to one of two things.

If you haven't already been doing much, just let Google do the transition for you. If you have been proactive in the last six to 12 months with Google and you have set up GA4, then opt out of their kind offer. Our four Ps, number four, perspicacity. The one duty we owe to history is to rewrite it. Oscar Wilde.

Finally, look, I think we started with the [00:30:00] University of Oregon. Given your history, David, as a lecturer of 12 odd years at the University of Adelaide, let's shine the light on an old campaign to see what we can learn from it today. And I think given this is the The theme of not pulling wool over people's eyes or convincing ourselves that we even can.

We are both reminded of that 2016 campaign that University of Adelaide ran called Seek light. Were you there at this point when this campaign was happening?

David Olney: I was, and I spent a significant amount of time teaching my classes to seek darkness.

Steve Davis: Is that why you're no longer there?

David Olney: No, I'd probably contributed at some level, but.

Steve Davis: Let's have a listen just to bring everyone up to speed. So let's seek the, audio version of Seeklight.


There we are, that's the Seeklight Seeklight. [00:31:00] Campaign and we'll embed the YouTube clip in the show notes as well. So take it over David

David Olney: Olney. For anyone that wasn't a student at Adelaide at this point, you won't know that any time you recorded a lecture, the university grafted a chunk of this ad and the music onto the start and the end of every lecture.

So every student for the length of the campaign also got hit with chunks of that ad connected to every lecture they sat through. Wow. So, it was a very ubiquitous message. But I would argue the problem with any ubiquitous message is, who's it speaking to? It was so generalized. It was all the abstract things that might be good about going to any university.

Rather than any of the specific things that might make it good to go to Adelaide, or any of the specific concerns the students had, [00:32:00] like, you're about to sign up to do a degree that's going to incur a very big education debt. What are your chances of employment at the end? What need do you have for additional postgraduate study?

How many chances will you have to do an internship? How much practical experience in industry do the people teaching you have? Will you be, you know, taught by people with industry experience? So it was quite an amazing ad that it touched on what is best in abstract terms about all institutions of higher education, but missed the specificity of who exactly are you talking to?

Steve Davis: What did you hear from students at the time?

David Olney: They would literally come into class, you know, into class and go, Hey David, have you heard the SQLite ad? I'd be like, yes. They'd be like, why? Why did I listen, or why did they make it? And they'd be like, both? I said, well I listened, so I could [00:33:00] teach you all to say, seek darkness.

Why they made it, I think it's because they don't want to make specific ads for each faculty. They don't want to make specific ads for each degree. They don't want to have experts with experience in talking to the public as well as in their discipline, going out and talking to groups of people who are ready to make big decisions about their future.

They took the overarching simple path. Rather than the necessary complex path.

Steve Davis: Yes. It has the confection of being grand it's, it's the theater of grandness. It's like Lord of the Rings style treatment, but of course, at the end of the day, the ultimate genius is the market itself from what you understand.

Did this lead to an uptick in enrollments?

David Olney: No, the exact opposite. For anyone who is really worried about the size of their education debt, and am I going to be employable at the end of this, more and more really, really [00:34:00] capable students either left for major East Coast universities, where they would get greater prestige, if prestige was indeed the issue.

And for those who wanted to know that they would be, you know, ready to join the industry they were interested in, they more and more went to universities who focused on, this is how we prepare you for this job in this industry, and here's how we learn to do this, and here's all the links between what we're teaching you and what you will do in the job according to industry and us together.

Steve Davis: Right. So from our perspicacious perspective, where we try to learn from the past, what would the takeouts be the rest of us could learn from in, in, if we get inclined to think that there is a high ground that we could take on the part of our communication, you're basically saying, don't ground things in specificity all the time.

David Olney: Don't bamboozle people with something so abstract. That they really [00:35:00] can't find any ground beneath it. You know, if you pull the wool over someone's eyes, even if the wool is, you know, beautiful bright light, they can't see everything else. That they need to navigate to make decisions about their own life.

Certainly give people optimism. Certainly give them a sense of how amazing, you know, in the case of a university, what a university can be. But make sure that that light is illuminating the ground that they're going to have to walk, and the paths they can choose between, and the landmarks they can head towards.

Don't let the light blind them from everything that is related to their life and their choices.

Steve Davis: On that note, I think I'm going to put on a nice pair of sunglasses. And settle into yet another week of working here with all our wonderful clients that talked about marketing.

David Olney: Make sure you wear those sunglasses at night.

Steve Davis: You too. Sunglasses [00:36:00] at night. So I can, so I can. Watch you weave and breathe. What's going on?

Caitlin Davis: Thank you for listening to Talking About Marketing. If you enjoyed it. Please leave a rating or a review in your favorite podcast app, and if you found it helpful, please share it with others. Steve and David always welcome your comments and questions, so send them to [email protected]. And finally, the last word to Oscar Wilde.

There's only one thing worse than being talked about and that's not being talked about.

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