Brand Relationships: The Ultimate "Yes!" Friends
My morning Quaker instant oatmeal package tells me, “Every day brings the possibility to be amazing.”
My soothing Hall’s cough drop joins in with “Conquer today! Push on!”
Ditto the Dove chocolate wrapper: “Satisfy your sense of surprise.”
My FitBit alerts me to further great news: I have qualified for the Himalayan Badge.
Meanwhile, as I field incoming affirmations from my brand friends, my human friends deal with the five stages of grief occasioned by the current political environment: Anger, Denial, Bargaining, Depression and, ultimately, perhaps, but not yet, Acceptance. Nowhere do they mention their joyous euphoria over the adventure tomorrow brings. No. That is the purview of brands seeking, as one colleague tells me, a “relationship” with me.
Which makes me wonder, are these encouragements simply a way for brands to give me a “Congratulations for Participating” Atta Girl certificate? Or, are they acknowledgement we live in stress-filled times and we need all the support we can get? Perhaps, they are further illustration we live in a culture so fragile no disagreement can be brooked. We watch only the news channels that corroborate our world view, whether that’s Fox or MSNBC. We read only the editorial pages and newspapers which ratify our opinions. We maintain friendships with only those who agree strongly with us. (Time magazine’s new cover story reports political rancor-based “unfriending” on Facebook is the newest social media trend.)
Brands seeking relationship inhabit a pristine landscape ‘where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.’ But the rest of us live in a more problematic terrain. Thus, this week’s question: Can real relationship exist without complexity, conflict and even disagreement, among humans or our commercial doppelgangers? Howard Schultz seems willing to trust us to vote our conscience by supporting his brand vision or not. Remember when Nike pioneered this space with its challenge to stop our whining and "Just Do It." Which of today's brands is willing to speak truth to our power? Which other brands dare to court controversy? Which ones dare we make our friends