To bring humor to a topic requires mastery beyond that of a mere expert. In Gonzo Marketing: Winning through Worst Practices (Perseus Publishing), Christopher Locke exhibits a lot of things, but most of all, his hilarious wit shines bright over the often drab concepts of business. His mastery is not of how business is done best, but how it’s done worst.
While his feet might be firmly planted in the box, his head is decidedly unboxed. Locke evokes Esther Dyson’s aphorism “Always make new mistakes,” inviting corporate marketers and consumers alike to realize that markets aren’t clean and tidy; they’re messy and ugly — quick and dirty even. His ideas don’t lend themselves to conclusive be-all, end-all solutions, but to random, dangling loose ends. And that’s the point really, isn’t it? The fault lines in the mass mind don’t divide the markets, they are the markets. Their rumbling and shifting is where Gonzo Marketing collects and analyzes its data, like a seismograph of the new economy’s undulating and ever-changing landscape.
While corporations scramble to make sense of the paradigmatic wreckage of the Web, Locke sits back laughing. The Web has reconnected consumers with each other. We converse online about everything. “Markets are conversations,” asserted The Cluetrain Manifesto (of which Locke was one of four co-authors), belying any established attempt to contain or coerce them. Gonzo Marketing invites business types to abandon their old ideas about markets and just join in the conversation, dammit!
Don’t come ’round here looking for answers to your marketing problems. Yes, we have no new panacea for your demographic woes today. But, if you’re looking for an engaging romp through — and an enlightening rant about — the way business is done in the now, Gonzo Marketing is the blinking exit sign on the box in your mind.
I marshal the middle between Mathers and McLuhan.