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Is Marketing Killing Democracy?

Customer segmentation is the cornerstone to any marketing plan. You segment your customers and define your personas, and deliver content, products, services based on those personas. It’s a way to increase the efficiency of your media spend and simplify your marketing effort.

Most news publications do the same: they segment their audience and simplify their stories. However, their personas and audience segmentation are based on political ideology. As such, they inadvertently place a political lens on every article, opinion, and cultural issue that we consume. Can you imagine if every food item we ate was with garlic or without? What’s more, they’re in the business to sell stories – simple, concrete ones that are easy to digest and repeat. As marketers, we get it. Customers have shorter and shorter attention spans, and that attention is expensive. As a result, news media end up telling and selling quick, simple opinions and content that fit their audience personas. Since “nice people don’t talk about politics” we end up not talking about real issues because they’ve been framed and labeled as political, as something only liberals or conservatives care about. We only talk about them with people we think are in our tribe. We enforce group think, tribal narratives, bubbles, but more importantly, us vs. them. I look at some of the news headlines and think, “how is this even debatable?”. In a sense, we've ALL been played. And it doesn’t matter that it’s NOT intentional.

What can we do? Leave your tribe. Stop thinking of yourself as liberal or conservative, Republican or Democrat. Every time you hear a comment or see a post you feel is “political,” stop. Know that your reaction is because you’ve been profiled. Reframe it for yourself, as a cultural issue that’s important to be discussed to keep democracy alive. Then talk about it.

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