To read this content please select one of the options below:

Imitation as the sincerest form of ignorance

Herbert Jack Rotfeld (Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 27 June 2008




This paper aims to note the imitation of apparently successful advertising as a replacement for thought by too many advertisers, misapplying the tactics of what seem to be past successes by other companies to current situations, sometimes not even attempting to find insight relevant to the current advertising situation. Imitation of what may be lucky accidents has become a tool for improper applications of old tactics to new problems.


Noting the frequent pronouncements by business journalists that many businesses do things because they know they “work,” the reality is that even among marketing professionals, conventional wisdom is often, at best, an oxymoron.


The pragmatic business need is to analyze new situations and consumer interests.


The paper shows that, since advertising decisions are often the recommendations from outside suppliers, business managers who pay for this advice must realize that past success by others does not mean that an imitative effort will enjoy similar success. Without data on how or why the other effort might have been successful means that imitation could be borrowing the worst parts of the earlier ideas.



Rotfeld, H.J. (2008), "Imitation as the sincerest form of ignorance", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 254-255.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles