Too Big To Fail...Or, Too Big To Succeed?
So much of the political dialogue is taken up with discussion of “anti-establishment” fervor that we have to consider what this apparent movement signals for brands and businesses. First, of course, I have to get over the hobble of the term: I remember from grammar school spelling bees that antidisestablishmentarianism was at one point at least the longest word in the English language. (I’m sure something technologically dense, arcane and complex must have taken its place by now.)
The definition of plain old anti-establishment: a political philosophy that views a nation's or society's power structure as corrupt, repressive, exploitative, or unjust.
But having jumped nostalgia's hurdle, I now wonder anew: If Establishment entities – think military, government, church, business, banking, leaders – are viewed, at least in polls, as corrupt, exploitative, unjust, then what about brands? Will big, well-known products, enjoyed from youth, suddenly become totems of oppression, suspect for their size, scale and longevity? Or has that happened all ready?
Certainly, Big Food is trying to look small(er). Campbell’s has its Bolthouse. Kellogg’s its Kashi. Mondolez is trying to buy Hershey and rebrand itself as the sweet little company from a sweet little company town that smells of chocolate and offers an amusement park on premise. Meanwhile, walking the Fancy Food Show surfaces scores of tiny start-ups seeking regional distribution in Whole Foods, while WalMart begs them to come hither. Small is the new big. Discovery the new consumer purpose.
Or perhaps, Oreos and Mac & Cheese and Tomato Soup and Hershey’s Kisses and Special K and Cheerios form the last bastion of global immensity in which we have confidence. Time will tell: Here too we’re voting our pocketbooks.