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Long as anyone can remember, there’s always been trouble in the marketing heartland.

It used to be simple. Rationalists and Emotionalists. Rationalists ruled one side of town, Emotionalists the other. Tracks down the middle and you didn’t cross them.

Now we got new gangs springing up all over the place.

Up in the North, where it’s cold, there’re the Evidencers. You get nowhere with them unless you turn up with data, big data.

And they have all these rules, which aren’t exactly rules but that’s how they use them.

But it all comes down to one thing for them - penetration. And that takes saliency. Leave your mark.

Over West, down by the river, there’s the cool crowd, the Biases.

You have to watch them. Most of the time you don’t even know what they’re up to. But they’re always up to something.

And one day you find yourself doing exactly what it was they wanted you to do. If you thought about it, you’d realise it’s just plain old human nature. Social Proof. Payment Pain. Primacy Effect. Wishful Seeing. But you don’t think about it, do you? That’s the trick.

Then way over the other side, to the East, where the mountains touch the sky, you find the Purposes.

They want you to engage with them. They want you to care. But that’s not really it. They want you to buy. That’s all they really want. Why don’t they just come out and say it?

And down South, down the old road home, where they’ve always been, you have the Trads.

They can be fierce, boy, can they be fierce! In their eyes, no one in marketing knows anything about anything. But really, they’re sad. Sad the world isn’t the way it used to be.

So they sit there watching their terrestrial TV and reading tomorrow’s fish and chips wrapper. Watch out for them, though, there’s a load of them. Lot more than you think.

Worst of all are the Ad Trads. Not too many of them still working away in the mines, so you’ll usually find them down the Blogs, steaming with rage and frustration. For them creativity is dead, agencies are dead, everything is dead.

That’s what happens in the badlands. Terrain gets dry. Wind and rain do their eroding and soon there’s nothing left. It’s all just canyons and ravines.

But you know who I saw out there recently? Mark Ritson, no less.

Most of the time he goes round picking fights with anyone and everyone. He lays into those Purposes like they’re the fool of fools. Heineken’s going to brew a better world, is it? Really?

With the Biases, he plays along with them but it’s not really him. It’s about “getting people to buy wine when German Oompah music is playing”. That’s from his review of Richard Shotton’s new book, The Choice Factory.

Then he rolls up on the Evidencers’ patch and tells them they don’t get it either. For him, segmentation, targeting and positioning are still the Holy Trinity and forever will it be so.

But when he comes across Trads, he tells them they’re living in La-La Land. Sure, he says, TV advertising isn’t going to die any day soon and marketing changes but marketing’s always the same.

But then he hits them with what he calls the ‘communification’ and ‘tactification’ of marketing and says Trads are as much the problem as the Digitals.

I didn’t even mention the Digitals, did I? They’re the new kids and they’re everywhere. It’s hard to tell they’re a gang at all.

Anyway, when I saw Mark at Marketing Week Live he was hollering away, like he always does. Telling marketers they’re ashamed to be marketers, before selling them his Mini MBA.

But then the strangest thing. He put forward his big new idea for marketing in 2019 and it was…the middle path.

The middle path? Ritson being reasonable? Now I’ve heard it all.

So it’s not purpose or availability. It’s not differentiation or distinctiveness. It’s not sophisticated mass-marketing or Facebook micro-marketing.

It’s not even rational or emotional. It’s both. It’s 'and'.

Suddenly I found myself humming that campfire song from way back when.

Badlands, you gotta live it every day / Let the broken hearts stand as the price you’ve gotta pay

Keep pushin’ ‘til it’s understood / And these badlands start treating us good

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