PD Scullin

3 years ago · 1 min. reading time · visibility 0 ·

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Is There Hope For Humanity In The Marketing World?


After spending some time not being in advertising, I’ve found myself still thinking about what the business has become.

What the hell is wrong with me?

Don’t reply.

Anyway, recently, Ken Auletta wrote an incredible and informative essay in The New Yorker entitled “How the Math Men Overthrew the Mad Men” (read it!).

The upshot is that today it’s the numbers that rule marketing and big data translates into more numbers and data points than one can count. Meaning, more ways to market more products and messages to more people individually — specifically suited to that person’s projected needs and wants based on his or her past actions.

Science, baby, science! Technology ruling humanity.

This way of thinking puts data ahead of humans. It’s the numbers that matter… they just happen to be attached to a pulse. Once those numbers are analyzed, messages can be customized. Messages with proven buzzwords that elicit rich responses.

Extrapolate this way of thinking and pretty soon the result is inevatable — computers can continually refine and test and measure all messaging. People will be required to analyze the data and perhaps put some spitshine and POV to the results.

Or maybe not.

Maybe the only role of people will be consuming products and services and ideas. The marketing directors of the future will get everything they need from machines.

And machines don’t have bothersome emotions.

As the marketing world continues to drink the Kool-Aid of numbers as its panacea, consider this — greatness, true greatness that moves people and revolutionizes an industry, rarely comes in incremental improvements.

Humans crave new and excitingly different things. Things that stir the soul and excite imagination and possibility.

Will those big ideas come from computer codes, some formulaic result of previous performance? I doubt it.

Then again, maybe the formula simply needs a special random creative algorithm.

Or, maybe in the future, the secret weapon will be using empathy, creativity, and humanity to divine ideas that spark movements.

Then again, perhaps I’m just a silly romantic, and data can quickly discern how many of us are left and churn marketing messages aimed to lure us into groupthink.

I’d better set my Adblock to dematerialize.


Patrick Scullin (aka PD Scullin) is a founder of ASO Advertising and recently left the ad game to be a full-time writer, wrangling parts of speech to entertain and amuse.

He has two blogs: The Lint Screen (satire, smartassery humor, pop culture ramblings, and advice for people getting hip replacements) and Empathetic Adman (marketing pontification).

Thanks for reading


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Debasish Majumder

3 years ago #3

Great insight @PD Scullin! enjoyed read and shared. thank you for the buzz.
hope creates life
there is always hope, in any given situation, in any given world, and hope resides in a healthy brain

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