Posts Tagged ‘snake oil ads’

Marketing to Millennials: Are we still just selling snake oil?

March 1st, 2016

Skepticism is the disposition of our age. I’m not saying it’s a altogether new, but it is definitely the disposition of anyone under the age of 30 — AKA Millennials (see this study, and this one). I was recently reminded of how this reality impacts marketing when I came across a snake oil spoof video:


Most of us are too young to know the history of the original snake oil ads, and yet we have been significantly impacted by them. Some of the original snake oil ads (see below) created so much demand for their product that entire businesses were built upon them. It has been reported that city blocks had to be converted into factories just to handle the demand generated from such an ad.

And yet today, this kind of disingenuous marketing has completely jaded the marketplace. If this ad could even make it past all of its legal offenses today, it would not even come close to producing 1% of the results it did hundred years ago.

Snake Oil Cures AllThe above video, though a spoof, is making a very poignant point — many of today’s marketplace, particularly Millennials, see our “clever and creative” marketing tactics as nothing more than snake oil.

Consider the video as more than just something funny to pass around the office, but as a satirical indictment of our marketing techniques. Yes, the content of the video is absurd, but the marketing approach is not. And the painful truth I am reminded of as I watch it is that the post-modern consumer sees right through all our “best” methods.


We are more “oily” than we think

Whether you’re a Millennial or not, you don’t have to go very far to feel what I am talking about. You are a post-modern customer. Consider your email box right now, and look at the emails that have come in the past 24 hours.

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