I’ve drunk malt whisky for 20 years. I don’t like blended whisky because, to me, it almost always tastes watery. That said, I do reluctantly admit that my 8,000 tastebuds are being influenced – hoodwinked, even – beyond physical taste alone. By one, teensy four letter word.


The inclusion of that one, teensy four letter word improves the taste for me. I’m sure of it. But this story of hoodwinked tastebuds does not end there. Because my tastebud hoodwinking encounters took a further, unexpected turn just last month.

You see, I recently read that Christopher Hitchens, a man whose mind and motives I admire beyond anyone,  adored Johnnie Walker Black Label. And almost instantaneously, I fell in love with this ‘amber restorative’ (Christopher’s words, not mine) in a way that outran my 20 year love affair with malt whisky, in seconds.

I fell in love with Christopher’s story of never taking the trouble to develop a taste for single malt because, ‘when you are voyaging in rough countries it won’t be easily available.’ His raw, bold, single-mindedness present not just in his words now, but in his whisky choice as well.

I bought a bottle of this blended non-malt the following day. And I now love and admire Johnnie Walker Black Label with the same intensity as I love and admire the man that introduced me to it. Even though when Christopher was kind enough to do so, he’d been dead for 12 years.

So why am I telling this tale?

It is because most marketing is boring and useless for the exact same reason that  most taste tests are boring and useless.

Tales like the one above illustrate the the utter absurdity of the logical business communicator. Communicators that say, ‘We do this for these people’, or ‘This is why we think we’re better’ or ‘We did this today’.

It’s all so dull. What we love as humans is story, emotion, character, love, passion, identity and heroes – in and around our businesses and brands. And I’d go further.

If your marketing isn’t genuinely different and a bit weird, in the exact same way that one teensy four letter word and he who drinks it play a part in how whisky tastes to me. If all you marketing is doing is telling me what you do, who for, why you think you’re better and what you did today – it’s largely useless. Because it’s utterly boring. And boring is rarely noticed and never remembered – so it cannot be chosen.

If all you’re doing as a marketer is chronicling what, who for and what you did today – stop now. Relax. Take a deep breath. Grab a glass of amber restorative. And start over tomorrow.

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