8 April 2011
Brands could learn a lot from Ricky Nixon, Marc McInnes and those unfortunate soldiers caught in the middle of this month’s Facebook scandal.
In a month of powerful popular cultural cues we have seen our front pages swap between the emotion of unprecedented natural disasters, AFL scandals, cricket captaincy and politically incorrect soldiers on Facebook.
And we have seen overwhelming evidence that despite our best wishes to be sophisticated, new age and correct, the natural human state is far from it.
And it’s that same human state that shops, chooses brands and consumes.
At Bastion, we travel the world trying to convince business that it’s taking the wrong cues from popular culture and that our newfound sophistication is merely an illusion.
We are forever begging business to look to the places where consumers roam and to understand the emotional truth of what a business must be for people and their real emotions.
After all, how sophisticated is it that Ricky Nixon and the 17-year-old schoolgirl dominate news bulletins. How is this major ‘news issue’ going to have any bearing on anything remotely important to our society?
How is it that Charlie Sheen’s rants propel his brand, not kill it and that his ‘concert tour’ sells out in just 18 minutes?
Or that Justin Bieber is ranked at the top of the most relevant sources in social media!@#!
Get a grip! We are not an evolved species. We crave colour, entertainment, escapism and emotional connection. We need heroes to cheer and villains to jeer.
Throwing tomatoes at freaks has always been a societal need.
None of this should be overlooked when understanding what your brand can BE for its customers. These are the stories we need to understand, not ignore.
If you pitch your business at a point where you think society should be, you’ll miss the heart of consumers. And they won’t tell you. They’ll merely ignore you.
Yes, the board will nod appreciatively at your circumspect approach and well chosen words or your friends will blow wind up your proverbial at your efforts – but the ‘great unwashed’ will move on to find someone else who hits their hot button.
Remember the likes of Warney and big Bill Clinton when you think about influencing people. They remain two of society’s biggest sinners yet get more popular with every flawed act they seem to lurch into. Marc McInnes was doomed as a businessman only a few months ago only to make a spectacular comeback this week as head of Premier, owners of Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Portmans, Jacqui E and Peter Alexander. 950 stores mainly aimed at women. Solomen Lew hasn’t employed him for his female communication skills, but rather his tough retail talent.
Society accepts flawed heroes because they give us someone worse off than us and they also provide the colour that comes with attempted recovery. We love it. We love comebacks and bad boys. And we love brands that have some ‘real’ about them.
You don’t have to be squeaky clean and perfect. You have to be real and emotive. You have to have a colour and character for people to choose.
We secretly love Big Fev struggling with his demons in the spotlight of society. So much so that he wanders into a suburban pokies venue and a punter rings 3AW ensuring Melbourne goes live with another crucial bit of news journalism.@!#
For business, it’s hard deciphering between the loud minority who manage to take so much media space, pushing their extreme views of political correction – versus the vast majority who sit at home scratching their heads, quietly enjoying the colour of life and wondering if the whole world has gone mad.
It’s difficult for business to set a course through society’s contradictions – but set course we must.
Take the army scandal where soldiers will be discharged by the disgusted establishment.
For god’s sake, we have these guys over there to kill the enemy, then we criticise them for disparaging them!
Doesn’t kill trump a slur?! It seems it’s ok to blow their heads off, just don’t call them names in the process.
Have any of these out of touch military and political leaders ever sat in the outer at a Collingwood game or worse still, sat in the stands at an English Premier League London Derby?
Business cannot afford to disconnect with customers by believing everyone is correct and sensible. Brands must have character and personality based on real emotional truth.
Humans love colour and colourful brands, where they can buy more than a product – they can buy a belief, a stance, an attitude, a fresh thought.