Monday, April 29, 2013

Brand Hubris

In my last post, I discussed how the brand umbrella concept favored by many ad agencies faces dire challenges in the connected world.  In short, consumers can--and will--check any brand claim against what they hear online.

However, the BS-detector element represents only part of the problem of the umbrella brand construct.  Another threat lurks in how looking at the world through the brand lens makes for bad marketing decisions.

Case in point: Mountain Dew's Green-Label entertainment website.  It features music, comedy and a complete lack of any sense at all as far as I can see.

Here's the idea, as outlined by Stuart Elliott (not to keep harping on Stuart, but he does write about this sort of thing a lot): Mountain Dew appeals to young men who, in turn, enjoy music and comedy content both online and off.  To that end, Dew already sponsors musicians such as Lil Wayne and already has a YouTube Channel featuring original content around its sponsorships.  From the brand perspective, a dedicated website that encourages Dew consumers to engage with content in a Dew-sponsored environment makes some kind of sense.

That is, the new site makes sense until you realize that these coveted young men already have multiple places online to get these kinds of content.  You need humor?  Have you heard of CollegeHumor or FunnyOrDie?  No?  Remember The Onion?  You want music?  We got your music right here.

While Green-Label might prevail, it will require a huge investment in new content and the media to drive consumers to that content.  All the while, Mountain Dew and its content partner Complex Media must try to stay ahead of the tastes of a notoriously fickle group.  Good luck with that.

What if instead of looking at the world through the brand lens, Mountain Dew thought about their audience in terms of unmet needs?  What if they created something valuable for their audience and drove them to it rather than try to stand out among an ever-growing, ever-changing crowd?

In my next post (seriously this time), I'll take a crack at it.

Meanwhile, what's your favorite example of brand over-reach?  Please share in the comments section.

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