The synchronistic marketeer…
Recently I tried to live synchronistically for a month. Turns out that’s not only hard to say, but also hard to do.
Synchronicity was a concept originated by the psychoanalyst Carl Jung.
It’s a great piece of thinking. It’s the idea that events could be connected through meaning.
We understand that causality exists in the physical plane. You kick a ball, the ball moves. (Well, you’d think so, but sadly there was a reason I was picked last for football at school…) Hydrogen isotopes in the sun smash into each other releasing light and heat. The heat and light reach plants on earth that in turn fire up a chemical reaction. Events connected through physical interaction. Easy to understand.
Jung’s idea — that events could be connected through meaning — is delightfully weird though.
To illustrate it he told a story about a synchronistic event that inspired him. He had a patient who was proving too rational to engage with psychoanalysis. During a session she recounted a dream in which she was given a piece of jewellery shaped like a golden scarab beetle. At that moment there was a tapping at the window of Jung’s office window. It was a Scarabaeid beetle, gold-green in colour. He handed it to his patient. The event broke down her rationality and she made a breakthrough in her treatment.
In marketing there is, rightly, a constant drive for measurement and data. We all want to believe we know what we’re doing. We pull this lever and this outcome happens. We advertise here rather than there and sales increase. We create a brand around this piece of positioning rather than that piece of positioning and people love our product. We regard our careers in a similar way. We construct a narrative that leads from job to job, building skills and contacts that result in an easy to understand lifetime of professional causality.
Strategy is a wonderful thing, and essential in business. But what if Jung was right? What if events could be connected by meaning? How would brands behave then? How would you behave in your career or wider life? Presumably you’d create moments or representative images that you hoped would trigger symbolically connected outcomes. In essence, magic.
Which is ridiculous of course. Though I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who didn’t believe in magic just a tiny bit. Especially marketers.
And my month of living synchronistically? I’ll tell you in another post.