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Xabier Oliver, Professor of Marketing, IESE Business School

On the shoulders of a giant

Mon, 13 May 2013 12:09:00 +0000 Published in Diari de Tarragona

I teach class at the University of Navarra and yesterday, in Pamplona, I was shown an internet site,, which touched me deeply. It is one of the most remarkable pieces of communication that I have seen lately and that financial aid us to reflect on such transcendent topics as: what is it to be a university student, what are you passionate about communication, what is your goal as a teacher, or what committee would you give to your students? It could be something propagandistic, advertising and salesmanship, but, on the contrary, it is a direct and sincere contribution of some professors of the School of Communication who smile openly and show their most enthusiastic side, their happiness for what they say and for the project they share. An impeccable cinematographic realization worthy of the best that excites, motivates and fills us with pride.

I often talk about cosmetic communication at class. I refer to those efforts that are made to convince others of the goodness of a product or service, but that have little to do with what they are. We look for the attributes that can attract the potential buyer without reflecting on who we are, what we do for you and why we would like to share our experience. It's like putting on blusher or painting your eyes. You may look more attractive, but the reality is what it is and if I am to love or admire you, I should do it without make-up or cosmetics that only distract my attention from the real and authentic you.

As people grow richer and learn from what surrounds us, which is a lot and is constantly growing, we seem to appreciate more and more what is natural, spontaneous, real, what comes from the soul. And by contrast, we increasingly reject with greater vehemence the trite, what they want to sell us with impressions and caricatures. This is a great advance and we should be proud of it. We grow up and gradually forget the superficial to appreciate the profound.

That is why the exercise of maturity, serene reflection and simplicity of those of us who teach on the shoulders of giants, reminds me that we must not lose the legacies we have received, that we must preserve the essence of our contributions and that we must do so with simplicity, sincerity and without ambiguity. Seeing my colleagues speaking in this transcendent way moved me and I realized that wonderful things can be done in communication, fleeing from cosmetics and being true to ourselves.