Have You Swallowed The Red Pill?

On the eve of the release of Matrix Resurrections, we thought it only fitting to republish this piece from our founder.

This article originally appeared in 2015.

In the classic sci-fi movie The Matrix, the main character Neo is given a choice that sets up the whole movie: swallow the Red Pill and see the world for what it is or take the Blue Pill and continue to live in ignorance, seeing the world as he has always believe it existed. You probably remember or can guess the outcome. Our hero chooses the Red Pill, and it’s a painful choice.

So how can this movie scene possibly relate to marketing? If you think of our digital culture as the way the world really is and the traditional media landscape as the “Blue Pill” world you thought you knew, then this analogy fits well. Just imagine how painful it can be for a business owner with a limited marketing budget to “wake up” and realize their expensive, traditional advertising spend isn’t as effective as it used to be while further learning they aren’t reaching anyone in the digital culture. Not as bad as waking to the post apocalyptic existence faced by Neo, but an expensive dream nonetheless.

Now I can hear some of you saying “well that might be true for ‘Techies’ that watch The Matrix but…” To which I say, the lowly banner ad is 21 years old. The Matrix is nearly 17 years old. If Google were a person it would be old enough vote in the next presidential election! The digital culture is no longer new. In fact, the digital culture is mainstream and ubiquitous.

Look around your stores. People are on their phones, shopping for the very products you carry, right on your showroom floor. Do you not think they’re doing the same thing at home on their tablet or phone?

We live in a time of unprecedented disruption.

Digital publishing, tablets and phones have disrupted newspapers and magazines.
Over the air radio has been disrupted by satellite and more dramatically Internet radio alternatives like Pandora, Spotify and Apple Radio.
Broadcast TV is at the precipice of a massive disruption as streaming devices like Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast, along with accompanying content services like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon are now squarely in the mainstream. Even market leaders such as ESPN are bracing for massive layoffs as consumers rapidly unplug from pay TV and skip through commercials on their favorite primetime shows.
The question you need to ask yourself as a local marketer is this: “Do I want to continue to see the world as it was or as it really is?” There’s really only one answer. If you want to attract new business and add new customers you must embrace change and in a big way. Time to take the Red Pill.