Yesterday the news came about of a Jet Blue flight attendant who lost it. He cursed a (jet)blue streak, popped an emergency slide and ran away from Kennedy Airport to his nearby home.
It occurred to me that this flight attendant, like so many others are paid, indoctrinated, cajoled, bludgeoned and otherwise coerced into a plasticine smile. That's part of their job, to act happy.
At the drugstore near my office, the clerks, downtrodden, down market and down in the dumps no longer say "next" when their register is open. They smile in a stupor and mumble "next guest."
I am a guest at your fucking chain drugstore?
What's happening here is "smiles as a business tool." Some MBA decided that smiles up productivity 17%. So they're painted on like stickers across the faces of low-wage workers. And it's so much cheaper to mandate happiness and accord than to actually create conditions that would lead to a general amiability. Job satisfaction isn't what it's about--looking like you're satisfied is all that matters.
This of course has direct application to advertising.
What we have in our business is a lot of brands that are "tell" brands--that is they tell people how to think, act, feel. We have very few brands that are "do" brands, ie brands that set an example based on their actions, not merely their sloganizing.
There are brands that glad-hand their viewers vs. brands that actually genuine--actually helpful.
Here's the deal. Phony smiles and phony brands fail. Genuine brands cost more to create because they demand commitment up and down the food chain. But they work harder and last longer.
Oh, and they're honest. Which should count for something. Whether or not you're an MBA.