Philosophy for Success: A Critique of Digital Marketing with Sartre & De Beauvoir

Welcome to the “Philosophy for Success” series, where we seamlessly blend classical and modern philosophy with the dynamic realm of (digital) marketing and business success. In this article, we embark on a journey into the existentialist viewpoint of digital marketing, with a keen focus on the profound insights of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir.

Nimbler: Where Philosophy Meets Marketing

At Nimbler, we don’t merely operate as a digital marketing agency; we stand as staunch believers that marketing should be authentic, ethical, and, above all, effective. Our unique approach draws inspiration from philosophy, empowering our clients to create marketing campaigns that resonate deeply with their target audience. Join us as we navigate the intricate terrain of existentialism and digital marketing.

“We are our choices.”

Sartre's View of Digital Marketing

Jean-Paul Sartre, the luminary of existentialist philosophy, was an advocate for individual freedom and choice. He fervently believed that individuals should navigate life without external coercion. However, when we cast our gaze upon the digital marketing landscape, we can discern a stark contrast.

In this realm, companies often deploy targeted advertising and personalised messaging to manipulate consumers into specific choices or purchases. Sartre would have perceived this as a perilous infringement on individual freedom and autonomy. In his eyes, authentic choices could only flourish when liberated from external influence.

Yet, amidst this existentialist scepticism, Nimbler shines as a beacon of hope. Our approach aligns harmoniously with Sartre’s principles, championing individuality, authentic choices, and the preservation of personal freedom.

Sartre further emphasised the importance of individuals forging their own meaning in life. Regrettably, advertising often persuades people that material possessions hold the key to happiness and fulfilment. This, Sartre would argue, detracts individuals from the path of authentic existence, diverting them towards superficiality and an insatiable craving for material goods.

Within this philosophical context, Nimbler’s commitment to values and authenticity can be seen as a counterbalance. By promoting genuine consumer choices, we encourage individuals to explore their unique paths to meaning and fulfilment, in line with Sartre’s core philosophy.

Sartre also ardently championed authenticity and the rejection of conformity. In the digital marketing arena, companies frequently harness social proof and peer pressure to mould consumers into specific behaviours or trends. Sartre would consider this a grave threat to individual authenticity. In the face of such pressures, he would implore individuals to stand firm, making choices grounded in their personal values and beliefs.


“One's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others.”


De Beauvoir's View of Digital Marketing

Simone de Beauvoir, another prominent figure in existentialist philosophy, echoed Sartre’s concerns about freedom, choice, and responsibility. However, her perspective on marketing bore a more optimistic outlook.

De Beauvoir recognized the potential of marketing to empower individuals by presenting them with choices that align with their unique preferences and needs. In her eyes, marketing could serve as a catalyst for the exercise of freedom and the making of authentic choices.

Nimbler’s approach, rooted in tailored solutions and authentic connections, seamlessly aligns with de Beauvoir’s perspective. We enable individuals to discover products and services that resonate with their authentic selves.

De Beauvoir understood the significance of economic participation and consumer choice within a capitalist society. Marketing, she believed, played a pivotal role in facilitating this participation. Nimbler stands as a testament to this belief, offering information and generating genuine demand for products and services that consumers genuinely desire.

De Beauvoir also championed marketing as a means for small businesses and entrepreneurs to compete on a level playing field. Through marketing, they could promote their offerings to a broader audience, thus levelling the economic landscape and providing opportunities for those traditionally excluded from the business world.

Another Perspective

In addition to the perspectives of Sartre and de Beauvoir, alternate viewpoints abound regarding the existentialist view of digital marketing. Some philosophers argue that digital marketing can serve as a vehicle for promoting individual freedom and autonomy. They posit that by providing consumers with access to information and choice, digital marketing empowers people to make their own decisions about products and services.

The ethical implications of digital marketing ultimately hinge on its application. When employed in a manner that respects individual freedom and choice, digital marketing can be a valuable tool for individuals and businesses alike. However, when used manipulatively or coercively, it poses a significant threat to these core values.

Exploring More Philosophical Insights

In this article, we’ve journeyed through the existentialist lens to examine digital marketing, with Nimbler’s values and approach acting as a guiding light. We’ve witnessed the contrast between Sartre’s scepticism and de Beauvoir’s optimism, all within the context of marketing’s impact on personal freedom, choice, and authenticity.

For a deeper dive into the philosophical foundations of success in business and marketing, don’t miss our related article in the “Philosophy for Success” series: “Thought Leadership and Authenticity with Nietzsche.” Explore Friedrich Nietzsche’s profound insights into the “will to power” and its application to achieving unparalleled success in business and marketing.

In conclusion, the existentialist lens offers a multifaceted perspective on digital marketing, where ethics, authenticity, and individual freedom intersect. Nimbler’s commitment to these values ensures that our approach remains firmly grounded in philosophical principles, creating a bridge between the existentialist worldview and the modern world of marketing and business success.

Ready to embrace change and unlock the full potential of your marketing strategy? Then book a Discovery Call with our Founder, Lead Strategist and author of this article, Jeffrey de Visser.


Jeffrey de Visser is Nimbler’s Founder, Managing Director and Lead Strategist. Visit his LinkedIn profile to find out more.

The artwork in this series was created using DALL·E 2, a deep learning models developed by OpenAI to generate digital images from natural language descriptions.

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