John Lennon, the marketeer 01:34 on Monday

Lennon looking for Help!
Originally uploaded by Sir George Martinn.

Yesterday I read about Sir George Martin, the Beatles producer in Behind the Glass, a great book on legendary top producers. Today I switched on TV while having lunch, and there’s an old Beatles documentary on, with Sir George Martin explaining the exact same things I just read the day before. Very deja vu.

Anyway, returning to marketing, branding and such, in the documentary John Lennon replies to an interviewer questioning his and Yoko Ono’s bed-in for peace by saying:

We live in a time of gimmicks and commercialization.

And instantly I start thinking Attention Economy (which of course should not be about gimmicks). Maybe Lennon was a marketing genius thirty years ahead of his time, using unproven guerilla tactics and other “gimmicks” to spread his word, the word in his case being “peace”. I wonder what he could have accomplished with the help of the internet.

There was also a funny scene with Lennon confronting a NY Times reporter, where he tries to explain how his gimmicks were “advertisements for peace” and she insists that’s not the way to get noticed. I guess she was wrong, as his “advertisements” are still on seen and heard all around the world.

And no Beatles documentary nor a blog post about it would be complete without the timeless Lennon quote:

Life is what happens to you while you’re making other plans.

…and one of the best pop songs ever written, Imagine.

[tags]attention economy, beatles, john lennon, peace, george martin[/tags]

3 Responses to “John Lennon, the marketeer”


  1. Michael Wagner Says:

    I’m in synch with you I think. I am finishing up listening to the audio book version of Here, There and Everywhere by Emerick with narration by Martin Jarvis. I love the readers oral interpretation of the various English accents.

    Getting noticed is certainly the challenge when there is so much noise and so little signal. John’s approach was the outrageous and the gimmick. I think that works…short term. But I wonder about the long term effects. I see novelty and eccentric gimmicks being dismissed by people smart enough to know what is being “done to them” in our media savvy world.

    I challenge clients to learn the art of balancing the different that makes them unique with the relevance defined by their audience. But this requires thinking and reflection – no easy answers are readily available.

    Your postings are really helpful. I assume Finnish is your first language. This just adds to my admiration – thanks for “thinking out loud”.

  2. Niko Says:

    I agree with the lack of long term benefit. John Lennon’s peace message is still being heard, but that probably wouldn’t be true if he hadn’t played in the greatest pop band ever. And I think a gimmick can work even for the smart ones if they are enjoying it. Enjoying being manipulated, sort of…

    And yes, Finnish is my first language. :)

  3. Michael Wagner Says:

    Good point! “I think a gimmick can work even for the smart ones if they are enjoying it” I recongize that as true to my experience. Certain gimmicks just make me smile. I don’t reject them or resent them. And for that reason I play along with them.

    Hope you week has been a good one – keep creating, Mike