An up and down week for brand bullshit this week. On the upside, Bob Hoffman takes the brand bullshitters to task in two excellent consecutive posts, the second of which brilliantly eviscerates Kevin Roberts' complete misunderstanding of what has made Apple successful. On the downside, we find a national newspaper mindlessly regurgitating a thinly-veiled agency promotion in the guise of misguided brand-nonsense survey. There's so much wrong with that survey, the premise behind it, and the assertions made on the back of it, it could easily absorb most of my day pulling it apart. So I won't. But here are just three quick bullet points:
- The whole premise of people 'loving' or 'hating' brands, and that in turn influencing their buying behaviour, is completely misguided. It's this very start point that's leading to so much bullshit and wasted money in advertising. If you are tempted to disagree with this point (and I suspect many in advertising and marketing might) why not treat yourself to a little read of some of Professor Byron Sharp's work.
- Conflating political parties and consumer brands is fucking nuts. Idiotic. Thinking of political parties as brands is the kind of shit that has got politics into the horrible state that it's in. They are ideologies, the approaches of which, people can genuinely (and violently) agree or disagree with. The idea that people have the same kind of relationship with political parties as they do with a brand of sandwich spread is beyond fantasy. This idea that 'everything is a brand' and everything a brand problem, is a moronic plague on our times.
- Let's just take the headline 'hated brand' (not including political parties) - Marmite. For christ's sake, do these people understand nothing? At least Marmite themselves, and their agency thankfully understand people's relationship with their product. The publishers of this survey clearly don't. People's 'relationship' (if you'll excuse the word) with Marmite is with the spread, the product, Marmite. Not the brand. Some people like the taste of it, some people dislike the taste of it. I really dislike it (I'd be in the 'hate' part of Marmite's excellent advertising slogan), I feel neither here or there about the 'brand'. In fact I don't mind it. They appear to know their product, and their advertising normally has charm and wit, and doesn't treat me like a moron. I'm fine with the 'brand' Marmite. I will never buy the product however, because I don't like it.
I'm going to stop myself there for my own sanity (and I have work to do). All I will say is, if you're a business owner or a marketing person, and your agency thinks that people's buying behaviour is influenced by their attitude towards your brand, and their solution is (inevitably) some brand advertising - for the love of god, get yourself a new agency, pronto.