Posts Tagged ‘Intangible value’

Like selling refrigerators to Eskimos

July 13, 2011

If the supreme art of salesmanship would be to sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo, the supreme art of advertising is in persuading people who have unlimited access to tap water to buy bottled water.

Now it is true that not all water is alike.  When I was a boy, I could tell the difference between “country water,” drawn from the well on my grandfather’s farm, and “city water,” the chlorinated water we drew from the tap at home.  I can tell—or think I can tell—the difference between the sweet filtered Hemlock Lake water that comes out of my tap in Rochester, and the water I drink when I’m traveling.

Bruce Sterling, in his science-fiction novel Holy Fire, imagined that, just as today there are wine snobs who detect minute differences in wines and their vintages, so in the future there will be water snobs.

Daizaburo said, “…We’re taking waters.  Would you like a water?”

“Antarctic glacier water,” offered the [robot] crab.  “A deep core from Pleistocene deposits.  Entirely unpolluted, undisturbed since the dawn of humanity.  Profoundly pure. …

“We have lunar water,” said the crab.  “Very interesting isotopic properties.”


How advertising creates intangible value

February 19, 2011

In this shrewd and witty talk, British advertising man Rory Sutherland argued that advertising performs a valuable service in influencing people to pay top dollar for products without any particular value that can be measured objectively.

He said that if intangible value increases human happiness, it is just as real as so-called objective value. He went on to say that it is better to generate intangible value through advertising than to try to increase objective value through human labor and consumption of natural resources.

Sutherland presented interesting facts, interesting stories and interesting ideas.  But if I had been present for his talk, I would have asked:  Why do we need advertising agencies to give things intangible value?  Why can’t we add intangible value for ourselves through our own creativity and imagination?

Click on TED for more videos like this.

Hat tip to Ezra Klein.