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Green Eggs and Ham : Marketing messages of Dr Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham : Marketing messages of Dr Seuss

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Published by Dr Stephen Dann
If Kotler is widely seen as the father of marketing, then Theodor Geisel (aka Dr Seuss) should be proud to be marketing's funny uncle. Between 1950 and 1965, Dr Seuss inadvertently published a sophisticated range of marketing texts. At the time, these break-through marketing texts were unrecognised by industry and academia, who discarded the theories concerning relationship marketing, promotion, service recovery and product over complication. This paper sets out to recognise the role and value of the texts of Geisel, in light of post modern marketing theory and practice. The paper takes a historical perspective of how Geisel's works of the 1950s and 1960s integrated many of contemporary marketing's theories and practices, and how post modernist marketing can benefit from the insights of this unheralded scholar. It also quotes extensively from "Green Eggs and Ham", "Cat in the Hat" and recognises the importance of Sneeches with stars as brand endorsers.
If Kotler is widely seen as the father of marketing, then Theodor Geisel (aka Dr Seuss) should be proud to be marketing's funny uncle. Between 1950 and 1965, Dr Seuss inadvertently published a sophisticated range of marketing texts. At the time, these break-through marketing texts were unrecognised by industry and academia, who discarded the theories concerning relationship marketing, promotion, service recovery and product over complication. This paper sets out to recognise the role and value of the texts of Geisel, in light of post modern marketing theory and practice. The paper takes a historical perspective of how Geisel's works of the 1950s and 1960s integrated many of contemporary marketing's theories and practices, and how post modernist marketing can benefit from the insights of this unheralded scholar. It also quotes extensively from "Green Eggs and Ham", "Cat in the Hat" and recognises the importance of Sneeches with stars as brand endorsers.

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Published by: Dr Stephen Dann on Aug 16, 2007
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/04/2012

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Title: Green Eggs and Market Plans: Learning Marketing from Dr Seuss.Dr Stephen DannABSTRACT
If Kotler is widely seen as the father of marketing, then Theodor Geisel (aka Dr Seuss)should be proud to be marketing's funny uncle. Between 1950 and 1965, Dr Seussinadvertently published a sophisticated range of marketing texts. At the time, thesebreak-through marketing texts were unrecognised by industry and academia, whodiscarded the theories concerning relationship marketing, promotion, service recoveryand product over complication. This paper sets out to recognise the role and value of the texts of Geisel, in light of post modern marketing theory and practice. The papertakes a historical perspective of how Geisel's works of the 1950s and 1960s integratedmany of contemporary marketing's theories and practices, and how post modernistmarketing can benefit from the insights of this unheralded scholar. It also quotesextensively from "Green Eggs and Ham", "Cat in the Hat" and recognises theimportance of Sneeches with stars as brand endorsers.Keywords: Dr Seuss, Green Eggs and Ham, Sneetches on the Beaches, Post ModernMarketing, Cat in the Hat, Kotler.
 
The Seuss of the Matter
This paper sets out to uncover the Seuss, the whole Seuss and nothing but the Seuss (sohelp me Kotler). When it was first drafted, the true nature was concealed behind aveneer of post modern marketing acceptability, largely to sidestep the first rejectionround of a conference. At the first draft, I proposed to have uncovered a hithertounknown marketing genius by the name of Theodor Geisel (Theodor, for those notversed in literary history, is none other than Dr Seuss). Hidden behind the carefullyworded opening page was a series of case studies based on the analysis of Dr Suess'schildren's classics such as "The Cat in the Hat" as being marketing texts. At the time of the review, the first reviewer managed to make it to halfway down the second pagebefore discovering the charade (the marks and suggestions on the manuscript stoppeddead just at the mention of the lost lessons of Dr Seuss). The second reviewer simplydrew a new box on the conference form, labelled it "Reject Outright" and ticked it.However, the paper was spared by the first reviewer selecting the "Accept withfundamental revisions" box which was conference speak for "Shred the evidence and tryagain". I removed the managerial article (Goodbye Mr Yertyle), and the paper wasaccepted into the conference. The message was quite clear - as long as I publiclydeclared I was trying to pass off children's books as marketing texts, the work was anacceptable marketing study. So, with that in mind, and mindful of Piercy (2002) andthe directive for research to be relevant to teaching, industry and society, this paper ispresented on the basis that "two out of three ain't bad". "Green Eggs and MarketingPlans" has been taught to students studying Advertising and Promotion and those takingIntroduction to Marketing. It is rumoured to have done an e-mail tour of the inboxes of several university marketing departments (perhaps accompanied with the note "Don't
 
hire this guy"). Indeed, it may also have qualified for Piercy's (2002) dreaded REAfunding arrangements (since it did qualify for research funding in its native country).And finally, it has brought an audience of conference delegates to scarlet-faced effortsnot to explode from laughter, and baffled looks from onlookers. Above all, it cherishedmarketing irreverence ahead of irrelevance, since it seems more valuable to laugh atmarketing than present an LISREL test equation model of humour.
How the Seuss stole Marketing
The work of Dr Seuss spanned several decades, with the publication of a range of children's books which acted both as literary training, and introduction to marketingtexts. At the time, their value as marketing texts was unrecognised by industry andacademia. This shouldn't come as a surprise, given that, for the most part, the textswere dismissed as childish, nonsensical and irrelevant to industry. Strangely enough,marketing itself is often on the receiving end of such criticisms, and accused of beingmerely applied commonsense instead of being a scientific discipline. But what if thereason the methods of marketing seem so commonplace and "obvious" is because theyare inadvertently taught to us as children?The 'brandwidth' of the Dr Seuss franchise rivals Disney for instant recognition andglobal awareness. In that regard, it certainly also leaves Kotler as an unknownphenomenon when compared to the reach of Dr Suess. This is reflected in the fact thatSeuss's children's books contain lessons on advertising and promotion (Sneetches on theBeaches, Green Eggs and Ham), service recovery (The Cat in the Hat), and the dangersof product over complication (Fox in Socks). In comparison, it usually takes until thefirst (or even second) year of university until people first encounter Kotler. And for

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