Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Are you talking to me?

For what seems like 96 or 107 millennia, I’ve been hearing all about people purportedly wanting to have conversations with brands. And brands that want to engage in conversations with people.

“How can we help you, George, improve your Airwick Solid Experience?” “George, thank you for your recent purchase of our Purple all-organic long-fiber fair-trade cotton 1200-count mattress cover. Here are some ‘pro-tips’ on getting the most out of your mattress cover experience.” “Dear George, our records tell us that the all-weather floor-mats you purchased in August 2001, may be due for replacement. Here are some simple ways to determine if your all-weather floor-mats are showing undo wear that could lead to hazards while driving. Please take a few minutes to check these floor-mat hotspots and improve your all-weather floor-mat experience.”

Way back in the run-up to the 2012, corporate titan and republican candidate, Mitt Romney said to a crowd of hecklers, “Corporations are people, my friend.” Romney was roundly derided for the tone-deafness of his statement, not to mention his condescending tone of voice.

I don’t watch a lot of TV. Everything I turn on, it seems to my ears that it’s played at double the decibels it should be played at—regardless of the volume on my set or computer. Laugh tracks convey too much hilarity, and most often the quality of what I’ve tune into seems woefully low. Also, I’ll admit to a certain Nathaniel Hawthorne prudishness. I’m not really interested in seeing other people have sex, talk about sex, allude to sex, intimate sex or fuck like jack-rabbits. I feel the same way about on-screen blood, gore, cruelty and torture. I don’t have to see things graphically to ‘get’ them. As Mr. Keats said so many centuries ago, “Heard melodies are sweet but those unheard, sweeter still.” This is the cruelest scene in movie history, and quite enough for me.

All this brings me back to our original topic. Brands.

I’ll make this simple.

So simple even a CEO could get it.

People like brands that act like the people they like.

I’m going to repeat that because it’s so simple no one believes it much less abides by it.

People like brands that act like the people they like.

People don’t like people who are dishonest, unkind, insincere and who over-promise. They like people who speak with them—not people who shout at them. They like people who do—not people who say they’re going to do. Or who brag about what they’ve done and look to get accolades for it. They don’t like egoists. Or braggarts. Or people who waste their time. They don’t like people who only talk about themselves and how great they are. They like to know they’re cared for, heard, listened to.

But when you watch TV tonight, analyze what you see.


False urgency.


Forced glee or cliché emotion.

All at the top of some announcer’s lungs.

I can think of two brands I like. Really, out of all of them. Apple and Nike. Maybe IBM. That’s it, really.

Sure, I can find fault in them—Apple and Nike use slave labor and Apple doesn’t pay taxes. But nevertheless, I’m still ok paying $99 for a charger.

Apple and Nike act like people I like.

Nearly everyone else acts like people I like.

To avoid.

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