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18 February 2017 : Pica #004

Take a stand or be bland.

Comrades in consumption.

“Tell me who your enemy is, and I will tell you who you are.”
Carl Schmitt.

Some marketing people have a hard time with negatives. Everything the brand is associated with has to be positive. These are the people who approve phrases like; “protecting babies health during slumber” and delete; “fighting against sudden infant death syndrome”. That’s a missed opportunity. Whether your brand has a built-in cause or you have decided to bolt one on, play the villain card when you can, because it will give your brand more meaning and urgency.

Heaven sounds great, but it sounds even better once you’ve heard about hell. Your positive is made stronger, through contrast with a strong negative. If you can define what you are against more clearly and quickly than what you are for, that’s the way to go. Most people react more strongly to the negative than the positive. They are more vocal about what they don’t like than what they do like. Take for example the ongoing battle between those who vaccinate and those who don’t. If you sell vaccines you are in that battle whether you like it or not and your side is chosen for you. So stand up for what you stand for, debunk the fake-news, get in the trenches and feel the muck ooze up to your knees. Yes, some will object, if you’re lucky a whole group of people will be seriously offended. Unless you have made a serious miscalculation they are not your customers, they are not your customers friends. They are your customers enemies and you know what they say about the enemy of my enemy right?

Staying out of the battleground is an option but it can always be made to look like weakness, while firm resolve can get grudging respect even from those who don’t agree with you. Fighting for a cause isn’t just about making friends, it’s also about making enemies. If this scares you, then good. Fighting for a worthy cause, is scary, unpredictable. But the whole point is, it’s worth it. You must feel compelled to do it. It can't ever be just a marketing tactic. If branding 2.0 is all about building experiences for customers that allow them to experience the brand in ways that are honest and truthful, then cause marketing is an authentic way to do that.

But don't expect everyone to like it, ‘cause cause marketing, whether you like it or not, is political.

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