In marketing and communications, the goal is to guide the thoughts and feelings of the public, right?
You want people to view your brand or product in a certain (positive) light.
It’s almost a Pavlovian formula: See X logo and feel Y emotion.
Consume product A and feel emotion B.
The truth is that customers guide the experience of the brand just as much as the marketing messages do.
McDonald’s launched a social media campaign in January 2012 with the hashtag #McDStories. The aim was for customers to share positive stories about their visits to the fast-food giant…but it quickly became a dumping ground for nightmares and horror stories.
New Coke. Another failure. Coca-Cola updated their classic recipe in 1985 after extensive taste-testing. The backlash was so extensive, the original recipe was back on shelves within three months. While some say the flop actually revitalized the brand, New Coke remains a marketing punchline.
World Wrestling Entertainment, a company I discuss in this space often, is not immune from the perils of things going against the grain. And sometimes, they embrace it and create a magic moment.
A great example came this week on Monday Night Raw.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio, a good guy, has struggled to connect with the audience. Something about his presentation just isn’t clicking.
Noted bad guy Dolph Ziggler earned a contract that allowed him an automatic title match against the World Heavyweight Champion.
Del Rio, in the story, sustained an ankle injury in his match Monday against bad guy Jack Swagger.
As Del Rio writhed in pain, unable to walk or stand, Ziggler’s music played and he made his way down to the ring to cash in his contract.
Villain preys on wounded hero. Simple story.
But Ziggler was wildly cheered by the crowd who respected his talents, and were bored with Del Rio, who struggled to connect with the audience as the cheered warrior.
And when I say wildly cheered, it’s a true understatement. The crowd was molten for him, despite his evil ways.
Despite taking advantage of a hurt opponent (a decidedly villainous tactic), Ziggler’s pinfall victory for the title almost literally blew the roof off the arena.
Ziggler got his moment to shine on national TV – winning the World Heavyweight Championship, soaking in the accolades that villains rarely experience.
The audience on Monday night decided that while Ziggler may be a villain, he was going to be the villain they loved to cheer for.
It’s unlikely that Ziggler will be a hero anytime soon. An anti-hero? Perhaps. But definitely not a “say your prayers, take your vitamins” hero.
The customer was right and the moment was fantastic.