Phil Bilbrough: Which bubble are you in?

My theory of bubbles is year’s old. The seedling of this theorem germinated many years ago when I noticed that my clients sold to… well… sold to themselves.

Their bubble dictated that they would market to their own kind. Their bubble went with them on their life’s journey and at the moment of their job interview that same bubble gave them confidence to present themselves well, and because their bubble has influenced all their decisions thus far, its part of their demeanour, their bubble gave their potential employers confidence to hire them.

I use the word “bubble” to describe the influence that your friends, family, upbringing and work colleagues had and have on your preferences, prejudices and perceptions of the world over the years. I prefer bubble as a metaphor over “circle of influence”  or your “class” or “socio-economic group.”  I like the way that bubbles stretch, give, travel, bounce and can envelope other bubbles, yet still remain intact. Sometimes you can even slowly pierce a bubble without it bursting. Cool.

I know a lot about bubbles. I know because I have felt a number of movements in my own bubble.

Marketers need to know their bubble. I’ll say write that again. Marketers need to know their bubble. They need to know what influences their preferences for any ad campaign. Ignore it completely if you are selling to your “kind” or people in your bubble, but be very aware of it if you are selling to a completely different group. Your marketing instinct may not work if you are trying to reach a different bubble.

I have a lot of respect for the creators and clients of some of the campaigns aimed a “youff.” Campaigns so meaningless (and sometimes puerile)  to me yet work for youff.  My opinion and those of my bubble are irrelevant – I’m not the target audience. The “V” ads from 2 years ago mean nothing to me – but I have a lot of respect for this marketing team (a friend of mine is lead in this).

A marketer’s gut feel or instinct could really put them wrong if they aren’t aware of their bubble. It can influence their feel for their marketing strategy and creative more than they will think it does. I think that many marketers market to their bubble (or kids of their bubble). Good marketers would stick with the old research, strategy development, creative development and concept testing approach. This way will not always crack that special campaign, but it might and its an approach I trust.

So my bubble has been stretched, moved and moved again. The first move was that I found myself completely over consumerism and surprisingly I found people that had also moved on from buying bullshit. A silent subversiveness of the worst kind for all $2 stores, department stores and the surprisingly large number of interior décor shops. My bubble isn’t moving back there quickly.

It moved again – faster this time- and because I was bored. Bubbles move on a feeling. My daughter took to triathlons and after standing around in glorious weather watching her come into transition and then 40 seconds later would disappear around a corner on her bike, I had to give it a go. I was bored into doing a triathlon.

For me it was a  new sport and a lifestyle overhaul. Better food, less beer, lots more exercise, and most importantly more endurance.

Bubble moving is good, but being aware of it is more important. For a marketer I have to know what influences my thoughts. My instinct is not that of a 16 year old boy living the freedom of his first car.

Phil Bilbrough (@philbilbrough) is a freelance online advertising specialist who is blogging on the subject for Scoop at He can be contacted at

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