Way back in the day, I worked for a telecommunications company called Flowers Direct. The idea was to connect you, as close as they could, to a florist where you were actually sending the flowers. None of the mess of finding out they sent gladiolas instead of roses because they were out of roses that day ...
Not as useful in the Internet era and flat-rate calling, but this was back when Linux was being sold on card tables at the back corners of computer trade shows.
Learned a lot - like how zip codes and area codes aren't these semi-permanent things but change crazy fast, if viewed on a national scale. Or that there really are weird people who call up just to hear the automated voices speaking to them - and they will go down a line of pay phones as you block them off one-by-one. And I learned about marketing.
See, the marketing group at Flowers Direct was, essentially, the kiss-of-death. Everyone who had worked on that team was, in some way or another, forced out of the company in disgrace. Even the consultants weren't having a good time of it. And so, being the junior programmer and the junior employee - well, the marketing team needed a programmer, and I was going to be the sacrafice.
That's when I learned about the Census Bureau and their whacky statistics. And companies like Melissa Data, who aggregate it and a whole mess of other facts besides.
So I hatched a plan. If I was going to be driven out in disgrace, then I wasn't going to go quietly into that night. I was going to go out with a bang. I was going to correlate the data we had on our customers and produce the most far-fetched marketing plans that they'd have no choice but to conclude somebody had lost their sanity - and since I was the one with the data, it would be clear THEY needed the straight jacket.
"Sixty percent of the people who use our service have pools and guns," I would announce. "We need a promotional piece to emphasize firearm use and water sports!" They undoubtedly had visions of the skeet surfing from "Top Secret!" pop in their brains. "All of our customers our calling from the largest MSAs (metropolitan statistical areas) - we're losing the rural customers!"
They did not ask for these statistics. They did not want these statistics. And I made sure they really and truly did not want them. I would always tack one or two at the end of every report, every memo, and into every conversation.
I survived the marketing group. Sure - I eventually fell to the axe when the company hit bad times, but it wasn't because of marketing.
And then I read XKCD today