Have you noticed that the world is sizzling more?

No, this isn’t a climate change post about the world’s increasing average temperatures, melting and disappearing glaciers, rising sea levels, and more frequent and violent storms. We can’t do anything about that, so let’s not talk about it.

I’m talking about marketing sizzle. We can’t do anything about it, either, but many people are already talking about climate change. Not many are talking about the marketing sizzle.

The sizzle comes from that expression, “You don’t sell the steak, you sell the sizzle.” Most companies are selling sizzle. We called it vaporware in the software business. It’s the stuff they tell you is so frigging miraculous that you won’t believe you ever did without it, the stuff that rarely lives up to the promise.

Television shows are big on selling the sizzle. “It’s the most mind-blowing episode ever! You won’t want to miss it!” They’re not usually the most mind-blowing episodes ever to me. I can usually get up during the show, go make a sandwich, feed the cats, and answer the phone, come back and find that I’ve missed nothing of substance, only a little sizzle.

Television is a sizzle pioneer, but all the companies are catching on that they’ve got to sell the sizzle. “Look how fast our car is,” many commercials claim, showing people grinning from ear-to-ear as they race through a city like Jason Bourne escaping his government buddies. “Look how much fun it is to drive! Look how free this people feel.” Weird how there’s no other cars in that city.

Beer and soda commercials aren’t slouches when it comes to selling sizzle. They now love to show healthy, athletic people surfing, singing, playing guitars, mountain climbing, or hiking. Then they stop to have a good old cold soda or brew. None of these people have problems. None are diabetic or overweight. The commercial’s slug rarely address the people, though. They speak of the beverage. “The world’s most refreshing beer.”

They state it without evidence. That’s the way it goes. Sizzle doesn’t need evidence. Just fire it up and let the hungry masses know about it, and they will come and buy, like, “The fastest broadband service ever seen.”

The government is proud about how these companies sell sizzle. They don’t want to do anything to reign in the sizzle. These companies are doing the world a public service. If it wasn’t for the sizzle, we’d be worried about things that don’t sizzle, like the wealth imbalance, corrupt politicians, investigating Russians, rebooting our routers against hackers, rising white supremacy movement, white and male privilege, the contamination of our food supplies, the growing plastic islands in our seas, increasing war and tensions in the middle East, our dwindling fresh water supplies, rising cancer rates, the Italian government and EU economy, or police officers attacking people over parking situations, escalating events in fear of phones.

It’s much better to think about the sizzle.


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