X-Message-Number: 12018
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 14:29:58 EDT
Subject: Mismarketing

Say, guess what, Reader?  As I was replying to Mr Platt elsewhere, lo, I 
noticed another sunlit commentary on my writings from the fellow pop up.  
Well, aren't we in luck!  It seems he's knowledgable about marketing as well. 
 Let's take a second and see if his insights are as penetrating on that 
subject as they are elsewhere.

Mr Platt writes:

<<Some attempts have been made to promote cryonics using orthodox methods. 
All have failed. Michael Cloud was going to double Alcor's membership; he had 
an impressive track record increasing membership in the Libertarian Party and 
had some good ideas. So far as I know, nothing happened. Before I entered 
cryonics, I'm told that a highly successful insurance agent decided he was 
going to sell cryonics in the same way he sold insurance. I understand he 
lost a LOT of money in this attempt. I myself applied traditional PR to 
cryonics when I devised a contest that was published in Omni magazine and 
promoted on radio and TV, generating thousands of information requests. I 
believe Alcor acquired some new members through this initiative, but a tiny 
number compared with the millions of people who heard about the contest one 
way or another. If we had been selling any "normal" product (such as 
vitamins, or healing crystals, to take one of your examples) we would have 
enjoyed a
bonanza. Most companies would kill for this kind of exposure.Before arguing 
that the current state of the art of cryonics is immaterial, and we merely 
need some professional marketing, please study a little history of the 

Well, with a tutor such as yourself, Charles, my insight is growing with 
leaps and bounds.  My God!  I had no idea that the cryonics movement had done 
so much in the field of marketing!  One guy from the Libertarian Party said 
he was going to up Alcor's membership, and 'so far as you know' didn't?  What 
a breathtaking example of sustained dynamic group-marketing professional 
effort.  And your post-game analysis!  'As far as I know' -- what conceptual 
precision! Then we have one (1) insurance agent giving it a shot, one -- or 
was it two? -- decades ago.  Yet another staggering MBA-laden marshalling of 
massed marketing professionals!  And he lost money nonetheless, you say?  
Gosh, he must be the only insurance salesman in the history of American 
Capitalism to do that.  Could it be that his approach was wrong, his staff 
non-existent, his funding ill-directed, his marketing background nil?  -- 
Nah. It was the dopey public.  And you yourself, Charles!  A contest in Omni! 
 Gee, you're right.  If you had been selling healing crystals, instead of 
giving away a free decapitation, you'd have raked those bucks up.

Sound silly, folks?  It should.  Really, it's the silliest thing I've ever 
heard in my life.  No marketing professionals; no marketing staff; no 
marketing backgrounds; no marketing studies; no marketing budget.  Surprise!  
No marketing results!  One guy called Cloud makes a promise, one guy called 
Platt does a contest, and one insurance salesman gives it a crack around the 
time of the recession.  And these are the highlights of thirty years of 
cryonics marketing?  Lord yes, we've exhausted all the possibilities in that 
area all right.  I could exhaust all mine -- laughing.  If it wasn't for the 
thought of all the people who might have had a chance in suspension and are 
now bones and soil. 

<<Ettinger's concept was promoted widely. He was on nationally
networked talk shows. The first cryonics case was featured in (some
editions of) LIFE magazine. MILLIONS of people learned about the concept
of cryonics.>>

Millions of people saw a serious and intelligent scholar wedged between Buddy 
Hackett and Zsa Zsa Gabor.  Between one-liners from Buddy about Zsa-Zsa's 
frigidity and Buddy's own desire to have one particular organ remain stiff 
for centuries, this quiet college professor would painstakingly try to 
explain, say, molecular activity at liquid nitrogen temperatures, or 
biologist Jean Rostand's discovery that sperm and insects could be revived 
after freezing.  -- "Sperm!  Woo Woo!" -- Cut to a Tidy-Bowl commercial.  
Incredibly, the American people did not migrate en masse to the nearest 
Frigidire.  How could this be, marvels Charles?  Could it be the fact that 
there were no providers to provide services in '65?  No 21CM to display its 
ice blockers?  No professors of nanotechnology expaining how revival could be 
achieved?  It's no surprise to me that no one signed up.  The only surprise 
is how a scholar and author like Robert Ettinger had the will and 
perseverance to keep plugging away through all the nonsense and ignorance and 
cheap-minded disrespect to get us to the point we've achieved today.  Yet 
another reason to honor the man and hear him out.  Ah, but all we 
cutting-edge futurists are too busy following in Buddy and Zsa-Zsa's 
intellectual footsteps for that. 

<<Today, cryonics has become a part of pop culture, in movies and even in TV 
shows such as Futurama. If any normal product enjoyed such exposure, it would 
sell, sell, sell.">>

Sure!  Look at the Edsel.  Heaven's Gate.  Infanticide.  Eight-track tapes.  
Castration.  Lee Harvey Oswald -- hey, his action figure's coming out next 

<<Cryonics does not [sell]. We are still in a situation where only a handful 
of people take it seriously. (A slightly larger handful, but still a 
handful.) Why? Because the product still doesn't exist and cannot be 

Kind of like the Second Coming, isn't it?  Guess those 249,277,000 North 
American Christians (not to oh, a billion Catholics worldwide) must be faking 
it just to pull Charles Platt's leg.  (And all because Alcor won't mail the 
Pope a free pamphlet.  Tsk tsk tsk.) 

<<This is kind of basic, don't you think?>>

Basic?  I prefer the term 'primitive'.  Mr Platt -- ten-year veteran of a New 
York marketing agency, I take it? -- is under the curious impression that 
'exposure' is the be-all and end-all of marketing.  If a lot of people are 
aware of a 'concept', why of course they'll buy it in droves!  All you have 
to do is chant 'Edsel' on CBS and the gibbering buffoons will flock to you 
like leaping salmon.  Futurama:  now that's what I call irrefutably 
compelling scientific evidence.  "Why, lookie there, Edna.  That pizza boy 
cartoon fella on Futurama fell into a freezer and woke up in the year 3000!"  
"He did?  Well, mercy, Jethro, let's call Charles Platt at CryoCare and pay 
$240,000 have our heads cut off!"  "Ooh! That is a durn tootin' brilliant 
insight, honey-bunch!  Say, you sure Pizza Hut can't do it for less?  It 
worked on Futurama!"

That a 'concept' is widespread, Charles, does not mean that it is attractive 
or compelling or correct or even existent.  Sure, people know what 'cryonics' 
is.  In 1850 they knew what a 'negro' was -- a simple-minded sub-species 
brighter than the chimp but not to be compared with the celestial heights 
attained by Whitey.  Everybody knew that -- they were all dead wrong, but 
they knew it!  It isn't that people 'know' what cryonics is, it's that what 
they 'know' is a idiotic caricature of cryonics, involving severed heads, 
wacko cultists, mind-boggling amounts of hard cash, all heavily sauteed with 
a kind of sci-fi anti-religious elitist technobabble that regards them and 
their views with contempt.  Why doesn't this absurd misrepresentation sell?  
Take a wild guess.

<<If you feel that fewer than 1000 signups worldwide, in 30 years is a
success, there is not much point in continuing this discussion!>>

After not 30 but 33 years, Christianity consisted of one dead Messiah, and 
twelve Jewish guys making themselves pretty durn scarce.  They did at least 
have, by the merciful grace of God, one blessing:   Charles Platt was not 
their marketing consultant.


Yes.  I am too.

<< Have you, in fact, ever tried to sell cryonics?>>


<< If so, how did it go? Did you sign up one person? Two, maybe? If so, I 
would say you are doing very well indeed.">>

Say:  "You are doing very well indeed, David."

David Pascal

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