We’re very pleased to present a guest post from Bill McCloskey! This comes from the Email Insiders List which Bill founded. It’s a brain trust of the most influential thinkers in the industry! If you’d like to join email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Does Phoenix “performance art project” hold any interesting lessons for marketers?
I think it does.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, we now know that Joaquim Phoenix has pulled off the ultimate “method” acting stunt by staying in character for two years, publically and on film, creating a fictional character also known as Joaquim Phoenix, who has a public meltdown, which was filmed and released as a documentary.
I saw the film a few days ago, before we knew it was a hoax, and it was an incredible experience, especially when I thought it was real. Now that I know it is fake, I’m even more impressed.
Here we have a strong brand that purposefully went out of its way to destroy that brand in the public eye. For what purpose? To sell a film? If that was the end result, it was a failure because the film has, undeservedly bombed (at least so far – it will be interesting to see if the “reveal” improves the box office). But I don’t think that was the end goal.
Here is the end goal in my mind: Joaquim has repositioned himself in my mind and the rest of the world. I never thought he was a great actor, despite winning the Oscar for Walk the Line. He always seemed rather wooden to me. But after viewing this performance for the last two years, and the film itself, he has gone from okay, also ran, actor, to rather a brilliant artist in my mind.
I’m reminded of the Canadian TV Show Slings and Arrows, about the running of a Shakespeare festival that is on the rocks. They launch a “rebranding campaign” to get a younger audience and they do so by making fun of their current membership, showing them as elderly and dying on billboards, and blowing up their worst reviews. The plan works, but to do so the director of the festival had to face the wrath of the current membership unsubscribing on mass and an angry board ready to have his head.
At the recent ExactTarget Connections Show, Richard Branson was the keynote and someone from an apparel company was in charge of rebranding their site. His question: should I just blow up the old brand and start anew?
Do we as marketers have the courage to blow up our brand, and face the wrath of our current clients and customers in order to get to the ones we want? And who has the courage to do this?
In the case of the Shakespeare Festival and in the case of Joaquim Phoenix, incredible courage was necessary and the chance for failure is high. But sometimes we must risk everything to exact change.
We all know brands that should be blown up and need to rise from their ashes like a Phoenix. Maybe you even work for one.
Do you have the courage to do it?
Drop a comment and join the conversation!
Takeaway: Sometimes you need to go back to the dynamite shed and not the drawing board.
He was named one of online advertising’s 50 most influential people by “Media” magazine and one of the 100 people to know by “BtoB Magazine.” He’s been a recognized pioneer in interactive advertising for over 10 years.