Lots of mail about the Aqua Teen guerrilla marketing Boston thing.

More than ten years ago, I co-wrote four of the Guerrilla Marketing books. At the time, Jay Levinson and I were focused at helping small businesses break out of the helpless rut of leaving advertising to the big guys. There were plenty of niches where smaller organizations could really thrive without becoming pariahs in their community.

It hasn’t taken long for the game to be totally rebuilt.

In the face of high ad rates and stunningly low effectiveness, many advertisers are getting selfish and angry. Rather than investing the money they would have spent on ads into products and services, they’re just running more invasive ads. Even in this picture of one of the Aqua Teen guerrillas we see a logo and an ad… in fact, it’s almost impossible to go anywhere or do anything without seeing an ad.

Try to imagine a TV executive in 1972 or 1985 explaining that the nationwide rollout of a new TV show would involve battery-operated LiteBrite boxes with an offensive little sprite icon on them… inconceivable. Today, it’s not only not surprising, it’s predictable.

So, what am I cynical about? I’m cynical that anyone is going to be able to do anything to stop it. That any government organization or any group of consumers is going to be effective in stopping the tsunami (and I don’t use the word lightly) of unanticipated, impersonal and irrelevant spam that fills our lives. I have no idea if Boston should have spent half a million dollars on this problem, or if the population should have freaked out in fear. I do know that whatever they do isn’t going to change the way marketers do (what they erroneously think is) their jobs. There’s just too much money on the table.

My hopeful side says that marketers should start taking responsibility for what we do, and start marketing to people the way we’d like to be marketed to. The cynical side of me realizes that this isn’t bloody likely.

The only thing that will make it go away is when it ceases to work.