All Articles

Marketing's Big Lie

Ever get suspicious that your Facebook friends are having too much fun? That the lives of people you follow on Instagram are too fabulous to be believed? According to Christophe Jouan, CEO of Future Foundation, all of this social media-based bragging should be a crucial concern for the marketing industry. Jouan talked to me about what he terms the Big Lie of marketing – also the title of a new book from Future Foundation. This Big Lie is a simple human truth: that how we want others to see us is as important a consideration as how we truly feel.

From this perspective, it’s pretty obvious why so many are so keen to portray a happy and interest-packed life via Facebook. “In these social networks, you create your own brand – which you want to promote at all times,” Jouan said. It follows that marketers need to recognise this performative need to make others view us positively, and tailor their communications accordingly.

These days, there’s a lot of market research talk about the implicit memory: that ever-evolving set of new MR techniques that promise to uncover unconscious motivations and desires. But, as head of an organisation with an arsenal of traditional survey data stretching back 30 years, Jouan sees such “implicit memory” techniques as only a useful part of the research repertoire, rather than the be all and end all. The responsible client, he suggested, should not go all in with brain scanning and eye tracking and jettison the tried and true techniques.

“The reality is – a lot of it is in between the conscious and unconscious,” Jouan told me. “We are not completely irrational beings. And part of the idea behind the Big Lie is that there is a degree of rationality behind every single action.”