The last word from the East: Lessons from the Chinese market traders

Barry Loehnis
Ogilvy & Mather

As marketing gets more complex, marketers get further away from the frontline reality of selling goods and services. Agencies are sometimes the worst detractors, mischievously encouraged by clients, spinning new-fangled theories and services into the mix. The words change but the mission remains the same: to sell.

Brands spend billions of dollars in activity and research, whose measures are obfuscations and often anything but sales. We measure Exposure (ratings, reach, frequency, views, pages, time, bounces); Engagement (fans, shares, 'likes', 'buzz'); and Emotion (consideration, inclination, recommendation, emotional connection). At times, I think there is a protectionist conspiracy to avoid linking these to a sale.

In China, all measures, even valid metrics, need to be taken with a pinch of salt; or a large whisky if you're a CMO. The figures are mostly unaudited lies or false promises, fulfilled by click fraud or zombie fans. Yet, in developed markets, the lies in my view are often simply more developed – to borrow a phrase from my lawyer: 'a professional is someone whom you pay to lie on your behalf.' The only proof I need in my marketing metrics is a sale.