Friday, 9 October 2015

Brands Go To Space For Some Reason

It appears to be the year of strapping branded content onto a rocket and firing it skywards.


Because it’s the time to boldly go, to innovate, to connect with audiences in thrilling ways. Because companies want to excite our imaginations, to soar in our minds, to be a brand to which you can aspire.

Or, possibly, because everyone else is doing it and it’s pretty cheap and easy and we want to go viral like that guy with Red Bull.

(Felix… the cat? I’m not on Wi-Fi right now to check as I write this. Let’s go with the cat.)

(Puss in Boots is not the only one doing space-y things anymore.)

Whether its “space beer”, “space phones”, or even “space cocktail menus”, there’s not much of a pause from anyone to question exactly why jumping on this bandwagon so readily (and for so little reason) is such a good idea.

It’s hard sometimes to see the brand logic in going with the crowd and tying yourself to the next space balloon. Not everyone needs to join the space age buzz.

Nothing screams “we have no coherent brand message” more than

spinning wildly in the wind, copying whatever trend appears next.

(Well, except literally screaming at people “we have no coherent brand message”. Strategy meetings can get tense sometimes.)

That’s not to say there’s no point to any of this.

For beer brands like John Smith it’s a gimmicky selling point, but it does have a unique value to sell.

For Jose Cuervo, the frozen margarita may be a little silly, but at least it makes some kind of sense. Frozen margaritas are a thing.

(A delicious, delicious thing.)

And for Red Bull, the original, it of course tied in entirely with their brand ethos and message – Red Bull means extreme stunts and adrenaline.

(So Mog’s supersonic jump made a lot of sense, brand-wise.)

But for far too many brands now, space is just a shortcut to ‘cool’. It’s a thing you can do to make a nice film which doesn’t involve thinking too hard – and you can pray that it becomes famous in amongst a crowded market of near-identical “unique” events.

If you’ve got a distinctive, defined brand, you’ll know if it makes sense to do some kind of space stunt. But if you’re just doing it because you’re jealous of Bagpuss and Red Bull, you probably need to spend a little more time working out exactly what it is that you stand for.

(With apologies to Felix Baumgartner, who is an extremely impressive individual and doesn’t deserve to be repeatedly confused with various mildly-famous cats.)

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