The rise of bothism

Blur vs Oasis

Why content marketing doesn’t have to be a battle

Toby SmeetonManaging Director

At The Marketing Society’s Ogilvy Lecture this year, Mark Ritson gave another of his now famously robust lectures (aka quite sweary). He argued that marketing has been polarised for far too long into tribal allegiances – targeted versus mass-marketing, digital versus traditional, qual versus quant – and proposes instead a new, more nuanced approach. He calls it ‘bothism’, a blend of “the rare capacity to not only see the value of both sides of the marketing story, but actively consider and then co-opt them into any subsequent marketing endeavour in an appropriate mix”.

I urge you to watch it if you haven’t, as it’s helpful in exemplifying many of the issues that lie at the heart of content marketing today. Content isn’t on a journey from print to digital, it isn’t about slow content versus fast content, it isn’t about utility versus entertainment, or in-house versus agency – it’s about all those aspects. It’s about deploying content into your marketing programmes in an appropriate mix. Too much of what we do as marketers has become binary and short-termist. Things are positioned as being either A or B, when in reality they should be both. One of the reasons these limitations have crept in is because we’ve created categories with false labels. One example is digital marketing (what does that even mean anymore?). Another is siloed skillsets that exclude cross-fertilisation, such as social-media marketing. The focus, it seems to me, at least when it comes to content marketing, should be to deploy editorial skills – creating engaging narratives and understanding audiences’ desires – in a blended approach. There are huge opportunities to amplify your content, and synergies to be gained, combining a 280-character tweet with a 60-second YouTube video and a piece of long-form content.

The benefit? Being able to manage the short term alongside the long term – creating demand and conversion. Brands will get a greater and more sustainable bang for the same buck.