Desperate marketing: Robin Williams Edition

Private Eye magazine has a relatively new, sadly regular column called Desperate Marketing, where corporate marketing communications desperately try and shoehorn themselves into contemporary news stories in a way to attract attention to their product.

I was reminded of this when receiving an email from an otherwise reputable publisher of technology and computing books:

Robin Williams was a great actor and comic, with a singular talent that could make other comics laugh out loud. He would even crack jokes about joking itself. Comedians and actors have long explored the possibilities of meta-dialog, a play-within-a-play, and other higher-level dramatic devices. It’s a world-changing idea.

Metaprogramming can change your programming world, and open up possibilities you may never have known existed. Embrace the new-found freedom and power that metaprogramming can bring to your career.

Author [REDACTED] will show you all the magic, with examples, challenges, and over 30 “spells” that you can use right away. Now in print and shipping from [URL REDACTED]

Usually these sort of things are done in the heat of the moment, aren’t meant to be offensive, and may be meant genuinely (“We’ve been thinking about this topic for a while as this book was being prepared, and this tragic event seems to tie in, so we’ll tell you about it!”)

I suspect the person who wrote those paragraphs is now beating themselves up at the ineptitude. But in case she or he isn’t, if there’s the remotest chance they did so in the hope that it would get their communication talked about more than your average weekly email shot, I’ll refrain from mentioning or linking to the actual publisher.

And I’ll put off buying their book on metaprogramming… for now.

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Scott Matthewman

Formerly Online Editor and Digital Project Manager for The Stage, creator of the award-winning The Gay Vote politics blog, now a full-time software developer specialising in Ruby, Objective-C and Swift, as well as a part-time critic for Musical Theatre Review, The Reviews Hub and others.