Last week I attended a fantastic tweetchat on “How to Use Trends Data to Grow Your Small Business” (transcipt of the chat) hosted by Melinda Emerson (@smallbizlady). Interesting stuff, you should check it out. (I recommend attending her weekly tweetchat (#smallbizchat), not only are her guests fantastic but the audience is lively, engaged, and adds great insights.)
As the chat evolved I started thinking about the differences between a fad (short-lived, a blip that dissipates quickly) and a trend (long lasting, representing a permanent shift). It brought to mind the recent “Occupy” movement and how it would be categorized, and if it could indeed be “globally” categorized—in some communities it might be considered a fad (as it was short-lived), while in others (e.g. Oakland, New York) it continues on. From a marketing perspective, I am not sure that it really matters.
During the apex of Occupy’s media attention, despite the fact that one of Occupy’s general complaints was that Corporate America was greedy and exploited their market power/position for unfair gains, several companies embraced the movement and incorporated Occupy-related imagery and messaging into their marketing.
One of my favorites (and what I think incorporated the most blatant references) is Levi’s “Go Forth” campaign. (example) Levi’s description for this particular spot states “It’s every person’s legacy to make the world more to their liking.” The campaign’s tagline is “Now is our time.” And, two scenes expressly contain protest imagery: the “crowd” scene at the beginning, and at the end, the scene showing a single 20-something man facing a line of police in riot gear (so much for subtlety). The spot’s audio is a reading of Charles Bukowski’s poem The Laughing Heart (full poem) that includes the line “You are marvelous. The gods wait to delight in you.” Other spots use the terms “fair” “equal”, Hmmm . . .
Referencing politically-oriented content, even in a subtle or humorous manner, is always risky. Although still the top selling jean brand, Levi’s has been dropping market share, especially in the 20-to-30 something market that is heavily involved in the Occupy movement, it will be interesting to see if this campaign—run by a company with a long-history of operating within the market-framework that the Occupy protester’s complain about—will get the desired results. It is possible that the direct references to the protest movement may not only fail to resonate with Levi’s loyal 40-and-up crowd (the group that “grew up” with the brand before the bling-based, luxury-jean market took off), it may turn them off completely . . . that is, if they don’t fast-forward through the commercials on their DVR!
For more information on the “Go Forth” campaign, see Brand Channel’s article. (Although the article’s statement
Like the Walt Whitman poem “Pioneers! Oh Pioneers!” that kicked off its award-winning “Go Forth” campaign — which celebrates America’s pioneering spirt, and work as a lifestyle (in keeping with Levi’s utilitarian denim roots)
is unclear as to which item, Walt Whitman’s poem or the “Go Forth” campaign, it is referencing as celebrating “work as a lifestyle,” if it is the latter, I do not agree. I do not see “work as a lifestyle” embodied in the “Go Forth” spots . . . do you? You can see more of the “Go Forth” spots on You Tube.)
Do you have any favorite “Occupy” related marketing campaigns / messaging? Share them in the comments section . . . I know they’re out there!