Dear Major Marketers, Minor Marketers and Interested Others,


OK, enough of the chirpy chit-chat, let's get down to brass tacks.

Over the years, I have had an uneasy relationship with you. I've not cared one bit for being your prospect. And, as it seems that being your customer is just an extension of a permanent, unrelenting and ever-more-intrusive marketing campaign, I'm not nuts about being your customer, either.

This should not surprise you. Your role, at least as it has been envisioned for quite some time, is to find me and make me less happy than I am.

One example: A couple of years ago there was a Dodge commercial that made fun of a teenager who was working a pizza-delivery job to pay for his car as opposed to partying with kids whose car payments were less. I was troubled by this commercial on several levels. But, I am sure that my feelings were nothing compared with what those kids working those pizza jobs felt. (Is it wrong to work hard? Is being a pizza delivery person really that un-cool or clown-like or of such low status?)

The commercial was shameful, but no hue and cry was heard across the land. It's a pity that a "throw-down" version of Janet Jackson's nipple couldn't have found its way into the spot so as to attract outrage.

David Glen Mick—an acknowledged expert in consumer research and one of America's leading semioticians—delivered a rich, provocative address at St. Clement's in Belfast, Ireland, in September 1997. Its title will, unfortunately, put many of you off, but here goes: "Searching for Byzantium: A Personal Journey into Spiritual Questions that Marketing Researchers Rarely Ask."

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Chris Maher is president of Fosforus, an Austin-based, business-to-business marketing, media, and interactive design firm. Reach him at