Speaking about online marketing to a group in Syracuse several months ago, we introduced Lance, a marketing construct we built for the audience. Lance had lovely demographics any organization would drool for regardless of economic times. An information hound, the young father with an advanced degree had more data flowing at him than any of his ancestors could ever imagine.
Lance’s main data source was the Internet and a cable news crawl with the sound muted while he was on his laptop. After several hundred emails, YouTube links and cable tickers, Lance thought he was well informed. He even watched Jon Stewart and Bill Maher; flipping over to Rachel Maddow when he had a few minutes.
Iceland Goes Bankrupt is a headline Lance saw on Twitter, but who isn’t having trouble these days? The talking points on President Obama’s speech last week said just that much. What Lance doesn’t know is that Circuit City is still open, Pfizer hasn’t merged with anyone yet, Merrill Lynch did not actually lose nearly a billion dollars in cash each week last quarter and Iceland is not on eBay.
As marketers, we owe Lance and all readers an informative headline that compels further reading. Of the major mainstream media, The New York Times may have produced the best Iceland finance headline. The current headline is just as serviceable, “Iceland’s Government Collapses”. Had Lance and his compatriots read the article, they would learn that Iceland is in financial ruin. But countries going bankrupt is an economic concept likely to be confused with the concept of personal bankruptcy.
Lance needs to understand that organizations like the IMF will help Iceland. Others will either write off loans or take legal action to secure assets securing loans. The currency is worthless. Many bad things will happen in Iceland in 2009.
But if marketers and journalists stick with headlines like “Iceland Bankrupt”, our world deserves every incompletely informed person able to spout sound bites.