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The Anthropology of Advertising
Advertising. Marketing. Sales.

Are they different? Are they the same? Are they an evolvement from one to another?

This is the kind of stuff I think about. Especially now that I'm learning and mastering permission marketing. I believe that they're incremental evolutions along a linear path. Also, my anthropology background plays into this question and into my career. Which is a big motivator for asking the question.

Let's digress a bit...

Anthropologically speaking, when one culture meets another culture for the first time there is an exchange of information. Visual mostly. As neither one can yet speak the other's language. So even though familiarity grows, understanding does not. The understanding comes with communication. So the two cultures have to work together to break the communication barrier. Then once they do that true cross-polination can occur.

This is where the fun begins because they can start trading customs and technology. Remember technology is a comb. Technology is anything that a culture comes up with to do something. So the problem here is that a piece of technology that makes sense to one culture makes no sense to another. Holistically speaking any factor that you can think of probably played into the development of that tool but only within that culture. So when it's introduced to another there is no perspective. Also, they didn't develop it because they didn't have a need or cured the need in their own unique way.

So the culture introducing this new tool or technology has to explain or demonstrate it, with good intentions, to help the other culture. More often than not the tool or technology gets changed by the new culture as they adapt it to meet their needs and world view.

Long story short, culture A may use a shot gun for hunting, introduce it to culture B and find culture B using it to hold doors open. They're both addressing needs with the same technology but in completely different ways.

Now back to the point...

If you consider the digression above then my next point really makes sense. When someone comes up with an idea in today's society they want to spread the word and sell it. Classic sales/advertising/marketing is what? Create a need. Well if we make a business analogous to culture A and the market they are trying to penetrate culture B then we can start to see the proof that all three are related cousins in a chain of evolution.<p>

So they have to do the progression: first contact, visual cues, language barrier, communication, sharing, understanding, needing and then using.

That's where sales/advertising/marketing come in. It's an attempt for one "culture" to introduce another "culture" to this wonderful new tool/technology that is going to change your life.

It's all social. It's people, culture, markets, society.

So here's my thought...

Sales led to advertising led to marketing. I think social forces caused this. If we remember that all three exist to speak to people it's natural to assume that society will decide what works for them.

In fact that's the point. Everything we've responded to has worked. Everything. The problem is once it works everyone does it, saturates it and finally makes us numb to it. So being the social critters that we are we change it to stick out. We like to be seen, heard, understood and known.

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