Wow – to think of all the times I have been out running with my 1970s punk playlist featuring The adverts’ ‘Gary Gilmore’s Eyes’. I’m sure you know the story – singer T.V. Smith wakes up in hospital after a cornea transplant and realises his new corneas must have come from convicted murderer Gary Gilmore who has been executed and donated his eyes. Well it turns out, according to adman Dan Wieden, that Nike’s slogan ‘Just Do It’ was inspired by Gilmore’s final defiant final words to the firing squad in 1977.
There must be a word to describe the ‘conceptual circularity’ of my tearing around the woodlands in my Nike gear listening to the Adverts, who inspired the brand’s spirit.
Isn’t it ironic? Let’s ask Alanis Morissette. Nope I think it’s just a coincidence. But calling the band The Adverts? Surely that’s more than just a coincidence.
Or are T.V. Smith and Dan Wieden just messing with our heads?
Advanced physics sounds impressive. But I’ve seen through the blarney and I am here to tell you, we’ve been conned. Dark Matter. Oooh, we were all seduced by that weren’t we? Well I’m not buying it. Nope. Dark matter is what the accountants refer to as a ‘balancing item’. What does that mean? It means it’s an arbitrary buffer to fill the gap between the reality we observe and the reality our prevailing theory would explain or predict. So dark matter is a measure of how wrong our explanation is. Pah.
Case studies don’tcha love ’em? They drive me a little bit nuts. Let me try and explain with a few examples:
Apple. Yes it’s a fabulous brand. Yes it’s hugely successful. But every single commentator attributes Apple’s success to something different. It’s all about user experience. No it’s because people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. No it’s because it unleashed your inner creativity. Or it’s a tribute to the personal vision of one man. Some or all of these may be true. But most of the people presenting the case studies don’t work for Apple. What does that tell you?
Dove. I admire Dove as much as the next man. I even know the background to the firming lotion campaign which initiated the ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’. But where is it in their marketing? It’s gone. Disappeared. Lost. Last weekend I saw advertising for Dove’s hair care and antiperspirant and they don’t even have any reference to CFRB. In truth it’s been missing for some years. It’s just a casting brief and a white background. Which is nice, but it hardly justifies all the excitement about brands with purpose, making the world a better place, testament to Unilever’s commitment to sustainable living blah blah etc.
Virgin. You never hear two accounts of Virgin which have anything in common, except we can broadly agree they’re a challenger brand. And they’re red. True deeply meaningful brand essence or matching luggage? You decide.
I used to have a boss who often presented Direct Line Insurance as the paradigm of marketing success. My next boss after that would hold up Direct Line as the kind of marketing we should avoid at all costs. I give in.
All great brands. All useless case studies. IMHO.