The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]


Beware Of Beige Volvo Brands …
May 31, 2011, 6:21 am
Filed under: Comment

One of the things that bothers me about brands is how much they talk about wanting differentiation and yet they do all they can to ignore one of the easiest and most powerful ways of doing it.

Standing for something.

It feels that more and more brands are favouring a positioning of blandom – probably because they feel this minimises the risk of alienating potential customers – however the irony of this ‘strategy’ is that by standing for nothing, they are opening the door for their competition to come in and steal their share, either through doing something with meaning or fighting on price. promotion or distribution.

While I appreciate there are many highly profitable brands out there that have no clear or consise positioning, I still believe brands that ‘stand for something’ are in a stronger position for growth than those who are ‘designed and managed by committee’ – though obviously that is dependent on the other critical factors being executed properly.

The reason this has come up is that a couple of weeks ago my wife and I were at a gig where a bunch of pensioners played a bunch of jazz greats.

One of the songs they played was the Sinatra classic, ‘My Way’ and she said that if that song was written today, it would probably be called ‘Our Way’ for the reasons I’ve blathered on about above.

I disagreed with her, because I still think ‘Our Way’ is still too pragmatic for many brands tastes and felt ‘Whatever Way You Want Is What We Want To Do’ would be more in line with current attitudes – which leads to my question, what other classic song titles would be affected by the emergence of ‘political correct and unifying’ brand attitudes?

Over to you …


111 Comments so far
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Not sure Volvo is the best choice, considering they ignored aesthetics for saftey to become ‘box but good’…

You could choose insurance companies etc, which would be the perfect example, but they’re not memeorable enough to remember…

Comment by Dan Thornton

who are you dan and why are you commenting on this shit? havent you got better fucking blogs to write on. then you called out campbell on his post and ignored his request so youre alright.

Comment by andy@cynic

and beige volvo is a line he nicked from a shit 90s movie, something to do with the ultimate in boring fucking dependability or some bollocks. whatever, he isnt clever enough to come up with shit like that on his own.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hi Dan, nice to have you pop by. You’re right about Volvo, they do stand for something and sacrificed other stuff to ensure that view remained – it’s just they’re so damn boring as a final product, ha.

Comment by Rob

i honestly dont know how the fuck you do it. just when i think youve gone as low as you can go, you reach new fucking depths of planner blog shit. thats quite the fucking skill youve got campbell.

to be fair to you, the first half of the post is almost good. you actually have a fucking point and its actually a worthfuckingwhile one but then you go into some weird designed by politically correct committee song title shit and you fuck it up like ryan giggs fucks it up, one step forward 10 steps fucking back.

instead of song title shit you could of rewritten classic straplines by committee, at least theyd be some fucking relevance to what youre talking about, but that would make fucking sense and you dont do that do you campbell as bedside clock purchase shows.

twat.

except for your point about brands standing for something. and not diluting the shit out of it. being a bit fucking proud of who they are and what they believe, not this please any fucker approach because it pleases no one and makes them the equivalent of a wet weekend in fucking grimsby.

but after that, youre a twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s a skill that has required years of training and I’m very grateful for all the advice you gave me.

Comment by Rob

Zeps “stairway to heaven” becomes “escalator to multi faith place of rest”.

This is better than I thought but I did think it would be seriously shit.

Comment by Billy Whizz

snow patrols “chasing cars” is now “following cars at responsible speeds and braking distances”

Comment by Billy Whizz

eltons “your song” / “everyones song”.

Comment by Billy Whizz

ok billy, we get the fucking point.

fuck me youre sadder than i ever fucking suspected.

Comment by andy@cynic

I never thought I’d find myself saying this, but thank you Billy for trying to get in the spirit of things. Of course it’s the spirit of doom and disaster, but I do appreciate it.

Comment by Rob

what if we turn this on its head and make politically fucking correct into single fucking minded, proud and exfuckingclusive so your beloved queen shit ‘we are the champions’ becomes ‘i am a champion and you are a loser’.

much fucking better and proves the point of your fucking post whatever the fuck that is.

Comment by andy@cynic

You proved the point more than you know Andy. Imagine if Nike went politically correct, instead of “just do it”, they’d be “think about trying something and if you feel good, put your toe in the water”

Comment by Pete

i knew it would prove my fucking point or i wouldnt of done it.

Comment by andy@cynic

sorry for chipping in. but how is just do it not politically correct? its a matter of context. in sports…
and the just do it is from a different time. still relevant. but i wonder if it would still come out like this today. probably not.

Comment by peggy

I don’t think ‘Just Do It’ is politically or in-politically [?] correct’ – though telling people to get off their arse and do something is not the sort of thing most companies [or even people] do which is why I think it’s quite different to the traditional – and safe – approach.

Now I write that, I find the fact you think it is politically correct interesting. Sure there’s a contextual and tonal elements that could result in different people reading different things into it – but by the same token, it’s hardly warm and fluffy is it.

Comment by Rob

i dont think its politically incorrect, because its a sports brand. and sport is about getting off your arse and whatever else. theres lots of room to just do it in that context. hey, you work on nike. thank god its not the claim of, e.g., blackwater. then i would riot lol

Comment by peggy

I’m certainly not backing NIKE’s line because I work with them … I just think the ‘stop being a lazy fuck’ attitude of ‘Just Do It’ is the antithesis of political correctness [I’ve come to that point of view now].

As for them being a sports brand. At their heart – yes they are – however I’d also argue that what the brand represents to the masses has moved beyond just that category, even if the products they produce, stay focused on that area.

Comment by Rob

i dont know what they are to the masses. i know they are a sports brand that had some sweatshop issues. thats not politically correct. and hey, im not a big fan of that.
maybe i should make clear what politically correctness is to me. it is not insulting or offending people in broad terms. so if people go for just do it in a sports context, i dont know how this could be politically incorrect.
it is however, since its from a different time, a mirror of those i think. more ego related than it probably would come out today.

Comment by peggy

You wouldn’t be suggesting I accept companies use of sweat shops to drive their own profits are you Peggy? I hope not. Besides, shareholders are often equally to blame though so few would ever see it that way.

Anyway, while NIKE are absolutely a sports company, my point is that they now exist in mainstream culture, which means to some people, they are more than just an athletics brand, they are a part of everyday life.

But that’s by the by – I think the beauty of ‘Just Do It’ is that it’s a message that tells people to do something and while that might work better in sports than other categories, it’s still not the sort of thing most brands would be happy to say because the general consensus seems to be ‘don’t alienate anyone’ rather than ‘say what you believe’.

Comment by Rob

of course, im not suggesting that you apllaud or somehow endorse companies using sweatshops.

company, shareholders? its shared responsibility as you say. but if a comapny doesnt go for profit at whatever external costs they will attract the shareholders with corresponding views. ethical investments and such…

Comment by peggy

i tell you what. political correct and unifying is fucking great. but you cannot stand for something if you dont believe in it. thats the problem. for example, if you believe in profit making only; chasing wallets, lowering costs, thats what you are. and you will look it. no matter how hard you try. pr, advertising, greenwashing, whitewashing etc. forget it. but hey, never change a running system or something.

the best things in life are free, jack hylton, is priceless now. which is not too bad. better than going with visa anyway.

and i didnt know snow patrol are doing classics

Comment by peggy

Surely the term “standing for something” requires you to believe in it, at least at some level.

Comment by Pete

sure. at the ‘oh how can i position myself to drive profits’ level. which is the point i was making. thank you pete ๐Ÿ™‚

seriously, ive said it before, and i say it again, theres more to corporate identity than a nice logo.

Comment by peggy

is any fucker disagreeing with you peggy? dont think so but i like your fucking argumentative style.

Comment by andy@cynic

All companies want to make a profit Peggy, so are you saying they can’t have any redeeming qualities or values other than the desire to make money?

Agree with you on snow patrol.

Comment by Pete

is that what youre saying peggy? tell me petes fucking wrong for your sake and my fucking sake.

Comment by andy@cynic

of course im not saying this pete. and no, i am in no way saying this, andy ๐Ÿ™‚

of course every company has to make profits. and so they want to. and i totally advise them to do so. i totally advise them to think in some other dimensions as well as this is only good for their long term profits.

Comment by peggy

and survival. but thinking of profits only, which ends up narrowing the view is lethal in the end. and a bit beige.

Comment by peggy

So you’re agreeing with Rob, as long as ‘standing for something’, means doing and living by something you believe in that hopefully transcends purely profit making?

Comment by Pete

no.

Comment by peggy

Then I am confused.

Comment by Pete

just letting off my argumentative style. yes, i agree with rob. but as i said. you cant stand for something if you dont believe in it. and that is what i think is the problem nowadays with many brands. conflicting messages and such…

Comment by peggy

think peggy is saying having an advertising positioning is fucked up because it should be a reflection of what the company believe and do.

think thats what were all fucking saying but maybe im wrong, ill never understand women except that they all want me.

Comment by andy@cynic

amd welcome back peggy. where the fuck have you been. and where the fuck is age? and northern. and mortimer and all the other fuckers who used to come here. how come theyre so lucky to fuck off and im still stuck here. fucking karmas a bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

thats exactly what im saying. and i have the sneaking suspicion that the one or other company is missing out on knowing who, let alone actively defining, who they are, apart from numbers and that advertising position which is ineffective if its not tied to the ‘real’ identity, because people will be confused what to believe. blahh lol

i dont know where everyone else is. probably sleeping. thanks for welcoming me back. but you did notice ive been here some days before. no? thats robs fault for confusing you with post lol

Comment by peggy

Hello Peggy, I noticed you were back!

To be honest, I think we’re all saying exactly the same thing – as I’ve always said, making money is not a bad thing … infact it’s a great thing because without money, you can’t do even bigger and better things … but the issue is HOW you make it and WHAT you do with it once you’ve got it, hence positioning should be a reflection of the values and beliefs that direct your company [not just an ‘ad’ thing], accepting that making a profit is always going to be one of the key goals for any organisation.

Comment by Rob

trust me to solve it all. im a fucking legend.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s sad you have to write this post because it should be obvious, however you just have to open the pages of a magazine, switch on the television or look at an ipad app to realize we are surrounded by brands trying to engage us with bland, meaningless messages. This approach does have some value, it helps me know which brands I should avoid at all costs.

Comment by Pete

its sad i fucking have to read it.

Comment by andy@cynic

abba. winner takes it all = we are all winners and we share the spoils equally.

fuck me ive done something campbell wanted. call me a fucking doctor right fucking now.

Comment by andy@cynic

Oh god.

Comment by Rob

Snow Patrol are shit.

Comment by Billy Whizz

You’re all sounding like clients with their literal shit.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Just saying.

Comment by Billy Whizz

youre a sad fuck. just saying.

Comment by andy@cynic

sorry rob but you seem to be under the pretense that we give a fuck.

Comment by andy@cynic

i’m enjoying you being back, peggy. i get sick of being the only argumentative woman on here who hassled brands to actually believe in shit.

rob, whilst i do agree with the need to believe in something, i also condone the ‘something’ to not just be self-seeking, money-making, i wanna snort-coke-off-a-hooker’s-arse-hedonism. that makes me a total square, but if it’s because i believe that if you’re going to try and manipulate people into handing over cash for stuff they don’t need, try to do something good in the process will ya.

i can’t think of any non-pc songs. mostly because once i start going into the 80s hair-band back catalogue, i won’t be able to stop ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment by lauren

You and Peggy seem to think you both have the monopoly on balancing values with profits. You’re not. Nor is every company that advertises – or agency that creates that advertising – some coke snorting wanker whose only goal in life is to own a Porsche.

Sure some companies are like that.
Sure some agencies are like that.

Some even manage to get away with it for a very long time … however it’s a choice and you either embrace/endorse/follow that or you don’t and when I talk about ‘believing in something’ I would hope it’s pretty obvious which side of the fence I fall on, especially given I helped star a company called cynic whose mission in life was to put people before marketing wank.

But that aside, if we’re talking about being against people who try and manipulate situations purely for their personal profit, I’d say we should also question the motives of anyone who has slightly exaggerated their tax return, or an insurance claim or even a job application.

I’m not trying to defend these people, I’m just trying to point out that this situation is not purely the domain of brands or agencies.

Comment by Rob

rob, whats going on? can you read my mind ๐Ÿ˜‰

i do agree with questioning the values of anyone who is a little manipulative shit.
but with greater influence and power comes greater responsibilities. and it evolves into a big entity being responsible for big shit.

Comment by peggy

Depending on the market, publicly listed companies are obligated by law to work in their shareholders best interests. With this in mind, I would suggest anyone who is concerned about the integrity of the brands they interact with should steer clear of this group.

Comment by Lee Hill

I thought it was law for any publically traded company to work in their shareholders best interests. Is it really market dependent?

Comment by Rob

There are always loopholes Robert, you of all people should be aware of that.

Comment by Lee Hill

That is a very, very good point. I am going to sit on the naughty step.

Comment by Rob

it all depends what a shareholders best interest is. short term profit, long term profit, wanting to make more than profit but suppport ethical acting companies, or not, etc.

Comment by peggy

show me a shareholder who doesnt mind waiting for their fucking return and ill show them a fucking house in canada that could be bigger than fucking facebook.

Comment by andy@cynic

but thats the thing. you can make profit with ethical investments. it doesnt mean making losses. quite the opposite.

Comment by peggy

oh, and it doesnt mean waiting for profits.

Comment by peggy

not enough and not quick enough for most shareholder bastards unless youre asking them to blow their wad on facebook and linkedin shit, then the blind fuckers are happy to wait for fucking ages. which is fucking handy.

if peggy wants to give me some cash, ill make sure the new roof is made of the best ethical anyfuckingthingyouwant and this is going to be bigger than facebook and google comfuckingbined.

remember investments can go down as well as down.

Comment by andy@cynic

what? does that mean the bif 5,000 havent arrived yet?
im already dealing with a parcel that got lost. what a day.

Comment by peggy

and funny enough, it contains a watch and a wallet.

Comment by peggy

send cash today and i can offer 100000% interest. send your bank details to my financial advisor mr b madoff and youll be the richest bastard this side of wherever the fuck you live.

Comment by andy@cynic

you mean i would be a sad twat.

Comment by peggy

sad fuck? youd be the most ethical fucking investor since anita bodyshop whatshername. till she sold to those frog rabbit testing fuckers.

Comment by andy@cynic

liar

Comment by peggy

foreigner.

Comment by andy@cynic

thats not pc andy

Comment by peggy

roddick, btw

Comment by peggy

she was a great fucking tennis player.

Comment by andy@cynic

was she? must have been in mixed doubles.

Comment by peggy

Yep.

Anticipates 20,000 client responses the world over… “We believe in quality”

Comment by Rob Mortimer

Having had the broadcasting schedules polluted by not one but two Queen docos and a laughable concert film in the past two days I’m too busy getting a refund on my TV licence to entertain your little crowdsourcing exercise. Especially as it’s clearly designed for some presentation you’ve got to do.

Comment by john

didnt realise the bbc stood for bullshit broadcasting cocks.

did you close your eyes and ears dodds or are you damaged fucking goods. sorry, even more fucking damaged goods.

Comment by andy@cynic

I opted to watch re-runs of your favourite show Home Improvement.

Comment by john

i never thought it was possible to be a sadder fuck than watching a pair of shitty queen documentaries but youve proved every fucker wrong again. well fucking done doddsy.

on the fucking positive, campbell will be crying he missed the shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

except the sad fuck is probably a member of the queen twatclub and watched it online. what the fuck was i thinking working with the tit? saint. im a fucking saint. ubersaint.

Comment by andy@cynic

But I will say that as bad a failing is to stand for something and target all your marketing at artificial demographic aggregations that you assume will represent all those who share your view.

Comment by john

I bet most of us remember how bad many brand’s attempts to get in on generation x cool were.

Step 1 is helping the client to believe in something.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

can we all stop with the fucking serious blog bollock comments. its bad enough campbell is back without you fuckers encouraging him to write more planning wank. that includes you lee. especially you lee.

Comment by andy@cynic

This blog is my 4th favourite waste of time.

Comment by DH

this blog isnt even good at being fucking shit. get a fucking grip dave and go out and be underfuckingwhelmed more.

Comment by andy@cynic

but its pretty good at being fucking shit. dont want to take that away from campbells hard fucking work.

Comment by andy@cynic

whats the top three?

Comment by peggy

2/1 they involve porn, animals and midgets.

or all fucking 3 in a spit roast.

dave?

Comment by andy@cynic

Dave likes the same shit as me?

Comment by Billy Whizz

dave? busy with the top three? i pray its not what the other two suggest

Comment by peggy

My lawyer told me I am under no obligation to answer any questions unless I am formerly charged.

@Billy. Want to swap content?

Comment by DH

look a bit down the comment stream and say something else wont you

Comment by peggy

swapping content already then. perverts

Comment by peggy

no point dave, you wont have anything the filthy fuck wont have already got a strained wrist off.

Comment by andy@cynic

almost 100 comments for this bollocks, the human race is fucking doomed.

enough of this shit, i have a miserable bastard life to go and live.

Comment by andy@cynic

It’s art and educational.

Comment by Billy Whizz

80 fucking comments. Jesus.

Comment by Marcus

this blog is like a laxative and shithole all rolled into one and campbells been on holiday from being on holiday so we had a lot of shit to get out our colons. except my shit is filled with fucking gold.

Comment by andy@cynic

anal.

Comment by Marcus

thats dave and billys 5th favourite waste of bollocks time.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’m not wading through 80 odd bloody comments
By the way, I’m currently in the bowels of a media behemoth, being bored to death by charts that closely resemble the approach this post argues against.
I feel the urge to do something very naughty and rebellious
And if I here the words ‘aligned’ or ‘synergy’ once more I may have to resort to violence

Comment by northern

put on youporn, turn the volume up and when the sad twats complain tell them they fucking started it by being boring cocks who need to spend some time with people rather than fucking calculators.

or ask them for the r&f on youporn.

or hit them.

anything else and youre a fucking embarassment to every pigeon racing, tea supping, flat cap wearing northern fucking monkey.

do not let us down.

Comment by andy@cynic

but

Comment by andy@cynic

im

Comment by andy@cynic

#100.

so fuck you all.

Comment by andy@cynic

Congratulations on breaking the record for “bad blog attracting lots of comments.” You’ve beaten the last record by 5 comments, which was also held by you.

Comment by Guinness Book Of Records

john?

Comment by peggy

btw, if anyone should be in the guiness book of records its me for turning this blog post around and around. put that in your pipe and smoke it hehe

Comment by peggy

You don’t want to take credit for this crap Peggy. Save yourself and retract everything immediately.

Comment by DH

crap or not. theres money to be made from the guinness book of record award fame. retracting? forget it.

Comment by peggy

This blog makes me want to drink guinness. Lots of it, until I forget I ever set eyes on the place.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Another thing we agree on.

Comment by DH

This post got 108 [now 109] comments!!!

Of which all but about 5 actually did what I was asking for!!!

Guess it’s fair to say it’s just like old times … but seriously, 108 [now 109] … haven’t you all got much, much, much better things to do with your lives?

Comment by Rob

comment? ๐Ÿ™‚

Comment by peggy

i dont know about all the other fuckers, but im just here to help me get to fucking sleep. actually i do know about all the others, theyre just here to be close to my genius.

Comment by andy@cynic




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