Take A Stand: Aziz Musa at Eva and Forbidden Technologies

by Jessica Ramesh

In each issue of Figaro Digital magazine we ask experts from across the marketing industry for a personal perspective on the issues that matter. In issue 23 Aziz Musa, Co-Founder at eva.co and Director of Consumer Products at Forbidden Technologies, asks how we can combine human experiences with the benefits of digital scale and cost

One day the Arab bazaars of the Middle Ages – complete with perfumed fruits and excessively polished brass – will return. Every marketing activity we undertake comes from these humble roots. Today we strive for that human feel, but what we really want is the illusion of humanity.

A hundred times a day I glance longingly at my phone for signs of pseudo-humanity. A Tweet, a post, a message – heck, even an email would do at times. Yesterday I arrived home following a long day of screen-staring and hand-cranking to something so unreal, so extraordinarily beautiful, so perfectly formed that I felt a jolt in my very core. It was a letter. A handwritten letter. The distinctive swirl of a refined fountain pen, the clumsy smudge of paper folded too quickly, the characteristic spelling correction hastily Tipp-Exed out. The contents seemed almost irrelevant as I wondered in awe at the beauty of the written word. Oh, Times New Roman – how you have spoiled us! I began to read: “David needs your support”. Interesting.

My local politician has decided to refer to himself in the third person. Something was wrong. I turned up the dimmer switch so I could read more clearly and began to doubt the authenticity of David’s words. Indescribable disappointment coursed through my entire being as I realised the printed letter was a fake. A good fake. Complete with smudges, spelling mistakes and corrections. But a mass produced fake nonetheless.

This is the paradox of human marketing. We want to create more human experiences, but we also want the benefits of digital scale and cost. So we cheat. The answer to the question ‘how can we be more human?’ lies in the question. By actually being more human. More human contact. More human interaction. More human discussion and debate. Start small. Ask yourself this: Who is your most valuable customer? Have a name? Got a number? Call him or her and thank them for being so awesome. Then repeat.

This article appears in Figaro Digital Issue 23 – January 2015.