This past weekend, I heard an interview with a lady named Cindy Gallop who has had a highly successful career in advertising.
If you’ve read some of my older posts you know that I don’t have a very high opinion of marketing and advertising, so I settled back to listen. I prepared myself for the onslaught of sound bites and neologisms and consume-at-all-cost philosophies that usually come from the marketing world. And when I heard that Ms. Gallop had worked in a high power ad agency in London, New York and Singapore I figured we were in for the deluxe treatment.
Ms. Gallop has left the world of marketing and is now focusing on the antithesis of the typical advertising mantra.
Most of us know that we should take most advertising with a grain of salt the size of Mt. Everest. I agree with the person who said “advertising does not aim to reach our better selves, but our inner idiot.”
It’s gotten so bad that companies gleefully lie to us. And we know it. Airlines tell us that they are whacking our frequent flyer miles “in order to serve us better.” And companies lay off double-digit percentages of their employees while proclaiming “people are our most important asset.”
We’ve also heard a lot about branding and how important it is for businesses.
So I was pleasantly surprised when she introduced the concept of “action marketing” in which companies (and people) brand themselves through their actions rather than their words.
Now there’s a novel idea.
In a surprising twist on what we are used to hearing from marketing people, she said that what is important is “doing, not saying.”
That by itself would have made for an interesting interview, but she really got my attention when she went on to say that it’s about time that we “strip out everything not having to do with action.”
As a naturally slow moving person, I needed some time to process that, but it makes a lot of sense. How many times do you hear an interview where everything the person says starts with “I think . . .” or “I want . . .” or “I suspect.”
Not many people say “I will . . .” or even better, “I have done . . .”
And that’s where Ms. Gallop’s real contribution comes in. She said that too many people, by spending time on things like Facebook and Twitter, end up “doing nothing in the virtual world,” and consequently doing nothing in the real world.
With that in mind, she has started a “crowdsourcing” project called “If We Ran the World.” Her idea is that everyone has good intentions about how to make the world a better place, but few of them are ever acted on.
For example, maybe you go to McDonalds and become shocked at the amount of packaging waste they produce. You say to yourself “the world would be a better place if there was less packaging littering the landscape and ending up in landfills.”
But you don’t do anything about it.
For one thing, you rationally say to yourself that there is no way that little old you can go up against McDonalds and get them to change their evil ways. For another, the minute you get back into your car and into your “real” life, every day activities will dissipate your passion about packaging.
Ms. Gallop’s view is that we are what we do, not what we say. Ifwerantheworld.com is a place where you can register your good intentions and act on them.
You can say “If I Ran the World . . . there would be no litter from McDonald’s packaging.” If you are serious and join up, you are encouraged to break your intention down into “micro actions” which are things you can reasonably accomplish and you use the site to network with other people who have similar concerns and wishes. That way you can share successes and build up momentum to achieve larger goals. The end result is that you are actually doing something constructive rather than just talking about it.
Who can say if this is just a feel good alternative to mindless social networking, but it certainly has more noble goals than meeting beautiful people. It will bring together people who are bonded by action, rather than a mouse click to be “friends.” And it may bring about positive changes in our world through one micro action at a time.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go start ruling the world.
And you better watch out!