Saturday, June 6, 2015

My Deodorant Weighs in on Caitlyn Jenner

We all know that Coke is more than a sugary brown liquid designed to ruin your teeth and remove paint from your car.  In fact, it's a lifestyle, it's a friend, and most important, it's a brand!  As marketers, we know that one of the keys to establishing loyalty to our brands is building an emotional connection between our brands and the general public.  We know that the connection with Coke is built on Happiness; Apple is on Imagination; Nike on Inspiration; and Facebook on Wasting Time.

And Lord knows, developing the brand essence which serves as the core of the connection does not come easily or cheaply.  Budgets are decimated as tons of quantitative and qualitative research are digested and regurgitated in support of extreme hypotheses.  I remember several brand building exercises where we theorized if our brand was a celebrity, who would it be?  If it were a car, what model would it be?  If it had a voice, how would it speak? For example a toilet paper could be perceived as speaking in a voice that is bold, confident, strong, and unafraid.

Brand Conversation
The longer we spoke around our long tables and the more we spent on research, the more we believed in our mission.  And I’m not saying this was a bad thing.  The most successful brands today including the ones I mentioned up top have succeeded in winning a place in customer’s hearts and minds as a result of their voice.  Those of us who are old enough will always remember Mean Joe Greene throwing his jersey at “the kid” in support of Coke and a Smile.  And the “once played” 1984 Apple Ad which fought Orwell’s vision of uniformity with one of individualism is one that still haunts many of us.  Both were responsible for giving their brands a voice or a personality to which consumers could connect.  The Voice of The Brand.  The Brand Voice.  It gave us marketers a seat at the table and something substantial to be proud of especially since we couldn’t make it through the advanced finance courses in grad school.  

The voice says, "Drink Me" 
But somewhere along the way… likely with the advent of social media… we may have started taking ourselves too seriously.  Through Twitter and Facebook, these voices were suddenly empowered to actually speak…and to do so several times a day.  As marketers, we had to give them something to say…something that would remain true to the essence of the brand, something that would connect with the consumer, something that would resonate.  We even talk about conversations with our brands.  And consumers (God bless them) have bought into it.  Coke and Nike have over 3 million Twitter followers while Disney has over 4 million.

 And we ourselves are drinking our own Kool-Aid.  A recent story in Advertising Age noted that brands were conspicuously quiet regarding the introduction of Caitlyn Jenner.  Seriously, have we arrived at a point where we expect our brands to intelligently opine on today’s controversial headlines?  And do so in 140 characters or less?

Ah, such a brut !
Well I took it to heart and I asked my deodorant what it thought of this whole Caitlyn Jenner thing and what it had to say was not too flattering.  Oh well, what do you expect from a Brut?  Anyway, you can take away my marketing creds, but if you want opinions on Caitlyn Jenner or any other current topics, ask your mother, your clergyperson, your coworker, or even a random old guy on the bus.  Those are the voices we need to hear and these are the emotional connections we all need to build.  And if you want to have this conversation over a Coke or even do it while chatting on your IPhone, more power to you.


  1. I perceive my toilet paper as talking shit behind my back. Also, imho, most brands avoid taking controversial stands until tectonic shifts in societal opinions/support make it safe for them to do so. And by safe I mean that taking a stand won't risk offending their consumers.

  2. You have some smart deodorant Len-great job!!! JennyRose