July 2011 Archives

Lame Marketing

I suppose that I should begin with the ubiquitous disclaimer - "The thoughts expressed here are mine and do not represent those of my employer"

Some weeks ago, I received an email from one of the internal marketing firms for my employer. What was most curious about the communication was it came a few days prior to office wide shutdown period. I would venture to guess that many of the desired recipients never received the information or simply deleted it upon returning to the office, along with the other 350 or so messages.  The only reason I gave it a second glance was that it contained the name of another colleague that I had worked with recently.  Another odd tidbit was that a 3rd party marketing firm was also cc'd. 

Perhaps most intriguing was the message alluded to some mystery forthcoming USBE magazine which highlighted myself and several other employees of color. I paraphrase the message to set the theme, "Were you aware that the you were being recognized in a forthcoming magazine article... Please be sure to list the STEM efforts that you are currently fostering?"  At this point I'm thinking that this smells rotten, but my curiosity was peeked so I do a bit of research to confirm my suspicions. I could find no such article. So I could only surmise that we have the classic bait and switch effort at work here.  What does an intelligent individual do at this point? Blow it off? 

Well the tone of the message clearly suggested that they really were not interested in the helping the employee shine. It was all about finding some individuals that are involved in STEM efforts and let the employer gain credit for the unsanctioned volunteer work of the employee.  I should state that this is the way of the world so to speak. Not uncommon, but in my humble opinion still disingenuous nonetheless.

I decided to cut to the chase and contact the 3rd party marketing firm that was curiously cc'd in the message. Maybe the 3rd party marketing firm added "validity" to the correspondence? 

Based upon the manner in which the message was orchestrated, I did not bother contacting the internal marketing firm that specialized in "African-American" matters.

After talking to the individual I told them I was unable to find the USBE article.  I also asked about the goal and intent of the marketing campaign. They basically stated that my company wanted to showcase its STEM efforts by highlighting the various African-American engineers who were engaged with such volunteer efforts. I explained the I was not currently active, but had supported such efforts in the past. He asked my name and said thank you. I suppose he crossed me off his list. C'est la vie.

Lame Marketing Lessons Learned:

  • It is never about showcasing the employee
  • If it sounds too good to be true...
  • My company is still struggling to leverage its African Ancestry talent
Lame indeed..

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