Cyber Monday: The Day Of The Marketing Tentacles

Cyber Monday sucks, and it’s all a sign of the faltering creativity of marketers, who are getting ever more invasive, says Tom Brewster

I have a love for marketers. At least of the Don Draper variety, full of creativity and flair, producing advertisements built on the basic premise of selling a product in an intelligent way to a human being. Yet that affection is dissipating. Today, most marketers make me want to join the Communist Party. And Cyber Monday is the day when one feels this antipathy the strongest.

That’s because it’s a day defined by ad men and women based on nothing other than the most mundane of marketing data: today is the day people do more online shopping than at any other point in the year. And why is it the most popular day for buying stuff on the Internet? Because marketers said so, because it’s nearly Christmas and they’ve put some sales on.

Where have the Mad Men gone?

Cyber Monday - © Shutterstock - Michele PaccioneWhat this tells us is that the Mad Men of today are largely bereft of ideas. It’s like sloppy data journalism: let’s grab any kind of information we can and use it in the most boring way imaginable. Cut the cost of the overpriced nonsense we’re selling, tell people it’s a MASSIVE DAY, and put out some overblown figures on how much of an EPIC HIT it will be. And they win. People go nuts for it.

It’s the Christmas hype machine with an overclocked processor. It’s an awful self-fullfilling prophecy. It’s another day on which marketers can tighten their tentacles around our quotidian existence, creating a new date for our calendar, a celebratory 24 hours of consumerism. This is Cyber Monday.

Cyber Monday, you suck

And this builds into my theory around the modus operandi of modern day marketers. They want to know us ever more intimately, to organise our lives for us, all for their own profit and little gain for the consumer. Unable to create inspirational ads anymore across almost all mediums,  marketers can now only think of one way forward: into our existence. Just look at the ad networks, pumping out code that gives them access to our mobile phones, in some cases letting them read or write files, or even make phone calls for us.

In their indefatigable drive to get us spending online, ad men and women have also created a fine day for criminals to dupe all the hungry shoppers out there. The Met Police’s Cyber Crime Unit has shoved out some advice for consumers (security companies are doing the same, but with more commercial interests in mind). It includes recommendations that apply for the whole year round, not just for Christmas, like patching your system and running anti-virus. If you’re not doing those things already, don’t moan when things go wrong.

I suppose I shouldn’t be so curmudgeonly. There will be a handful of genuinely good deals out there. And it’ll give the country’s sluggish economy a much-needed kick up the posterior. Even if it is at the expense of sanity.

Are you a security expert? Try our quiz!