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The aggressive consumer: welcome to hardest working marketing industry ever

By Andrew Boulton

April 2, 2013 | 3 min read

Marketing, eh? What a doddle. We breeze into our fancy offices at around 11am, polish off a Greggs sausage sandwich, play a 1990s computer game on our ever-so ironic Sega Megadrive and then off to the pub for a session that will invariably end in a fist fight about what the best volcano film is (incidentally it’s Dante’s Peak – anyone who claims otherwise needs drowning in their own tears).

Oh, and if we get the chance we’ll bash out an ad and wait for the sales figures to rocket and the awards to come cascading down.

None of this is true (apart from Dante’s Peak being the best ever volcano film). Modern marketing operates in what can only be described as a hostile environment.

Gone are the ‘Mad Men’ days of passive, receptive consumers who could be sold a pair of trousers made from wasp stings if they were told in the simplest terms it would make them appear attractive and successful.

The modern consumer is an aggressive, demanding (even disdainful) participant in an increasingly sensitive relationship. Nothing is bought in the modern consumer sphere that hasn’t been rigorously examined for quality and value.

Poor service from a brand is now met with a damning and damaging assessment that social media can carry throughout their entire consumer base – incrementally wearing away fragile customer trust.

Adverts are fast forwarded and those that aren’t are subject to universal dissection and highly vocal critical appraisal.

Expectations are high, patience is short and attention is fleeting. And it is in this environment in which the modern marketer plies their trade.

Quite frankly though, this is wonderful for the industry. Shaping the ideas and actions of a malleable audience lacks the challenge needed to drive innovation, boldness and originality.

The knowledge that the marketing messages we create are entering a hostile environment – with countless barriers to overcome, cultural appeasements to make and rivals to overshadow – is what drives the marketing industry to find a compelling voice.

The work is harder, the audience less receptive, the market more congested and the scope for genuine originality diminishing by the second.

But if Pierce Brosnan can rescue all the little kids from the volcano in Dante’s Peak then, by golly, we can do some damn good marketing. Oh, spoiler alert. Sorry.


Andrew Boulton is a copywriter at the Together Agency. If you don’t like Dante’s Peak he WILL GET YOU.


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