These are not the answers you are looking for

25 November 2006

I may have missed something, but has someone published a book along the lines of "Jedi mind tricks for dummies"? Because there is a growing band of marketing managers who seem to believe that saying something along the lines of "these are not the droids you are looking for" is actually effective in real life.

The phrase they are actually using right now is: "Our customers don't want to know about that". It roughly translates to: "I'm not telling you that because that information is off-message and I'm only authorised to provide on-message messages". You might as well say: "Look, if you can't just parrot the Powerpoint bullets, we don't want you here".

You could always try something entertaining. When asked about the processor inside his company's competitor to the Newton, Amstrad's Alan Sugar retorted: "A rubber band". It was not much appreciated at the time but, as it turned out, a rubber band would have been about as effective as the Z80 the company actually foisted on the early-1990s $0bn PDA market.

However, the weirdest answer that comes up quite commonly - it's a particular favourite of Microserfs - is: "We haven't disclosed that". They then look confused when the response comes back: "I know, that's why I asking".