Wednesday, 16 July 2014

What is 'love? Abuse by marketers

This won't be a treatise on love, although I love my wife and family and try to 'love my neighbour', as Jesus said. But I don't 'love' a brand. In fact, any brand that asks me to affirm my love for them is sadly misguided.

Here's the situation: Recently, I bought a new Ford Focus. It's very nice and a top example of how a manufacturer can constantly improve a product yet remain price competitive. When completing the purchase, the salesman told me that I would be sent a survey by email asking about my experience of the purchase. Please, he implored, say you were 'completely satisfied' with the purchase or he wouldn't get his bonus.

So yesterday, the survey arrived and I ticked the question that I was 'completely satisfied' so the salesman, who had been very professional, would get his reward. But what disturbed me were questions, with a five-point scale' was whether I 'loved Ford' and, later, whether I 'loved' the (unnameable) dealership.

What an abuse of the term 'love'  to imply that I could have (to quote OED) 'a strong feeling of affection' or 'great interest and pleasure in something'? I have left out the sexual attraction element of love definitions as it would be perverse to have such feelings about an inanimate collection of metal, plastic and rubber or a corporate entity

Even these definitions are low on the scale of the understanding of love as a complex emotional state with deep ethical and trustful characteristics. So my view is that Ford's reputation has slumped with these inept questions.

I answered "neither agree nor disagree" on the five-point scale because I simply didn't care that much about Ford. It was a question that was utterly irrelevant. I hope Ford keeps making nice middle-market cars but their marketers learn not to abuse their customers with such repellent demands for corporate affection.

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