Kaavya Viswanathan & the Marketing of Art

Some folks think that "marketing" means the act of telling people about a product or service. So advertising, posters, sponsorship – these things are "marketing".

Those of us in the field like to think that "marketing is business" – the entire process of figuring out what customer segments to serve, what need to fulfil, how to design a product or service offering and of course, how to tell prospective customers about it – now that's marketing.

"Art" on the other hand, is supposed to be the inspired creation of an individual who has his own story to tell, inspired only by his inner muse. Focus groups, "book packagers" and the like shouldn't have a role to play in the creation of true art.

This is why the whole Kaavya Viswanathan story about a young debutant author who was caught plagiarizing and had hired a book packager to "shape" her book, has gotten so much negative publicity. Anybody remember Milli Vanilli?


Clearly, the public expects a certain authenticity from works of art, even though they are viable only if they also entertain. There is an important lesson here for marketeers because customers are going to punish brands and products that fail the test of authenticity. More on this later.

1 Comment »

  1. Milo said

    Consumers should punish brands who fail to deliver. It’s the job of any good marketing department to not only make sure the advertising is good, but that the product is something that will interest and (more importantly) hold consumers.

    I was once faced with a similar situation where I was told to create advertisements for a company I didn’t believe in. I turned them down because the quality of their product was poor. I’ve never regretted it.

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