The Fame Game
As Andy Warhol famously said, ”In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”. Warhol probably didn’t realise how right he would be. Nowadays, fame seems to be within everyone’s grasp and there are more routes to market than ever before, with everything from reality TV, YouTube and Twitter giving a voice to the previously unheard. One of the major issues for brands is that they no longer own the most effective channels; they share them with their consumers.
In a world where anyone can be a celebrity, what are brands doing to stand out?
Generating fame through marketing a global event is, without doubt, one way to get noticed. The world was captivated by Red Bull and their Stratos stunt from the edge of space; more than 8 million people tuned in to watch Felix break the sound barrier. With the use of cleverly placed communications, word of mouth and a death defying experience, the world was putty in Red Bull’s hands and left waiting for the next installment. It is an interesting observation to note that Red Bull now makes more money from its non-drink activity than the original drink, which says something about fame; this stunt alone is said to have been worth tens of millions in dollars in global coverage for the Red Bull brand.
But fame is a fickle thing, if brands do not nurture it and keep on pace with consumers, it can easily be lost or damaged. Once famous, it is easy to take your position for granted and there is always another fame-hungry brand snapping at your ankles. Nokia is one such example. They suffered from a classic hubris, believing their fame was indestructible, they took for granted their popularity and while they were living the high life, Samsung and Apple were innovating phones beyond Nokia’s wildest dreams.
In the long run, fame is not just for the big spenders. Money can be a driving factor, but it is well executed visibility that always wins. Recently, the American elections proved the success of a strong brand. Obama’s popularity and charisma were no doubt big factors in his re-election. Despite Romney’s staggering $1 Billion campaign trying to entice the American vote, the nation were once again charmed by Obama. It shows that no matter how big your media spend is, a strong brand personality will win you fans, loyalty and ultimately long term fame. Although, if Barack Obama was to jump from the edge of space, I am sure he would have reached YouTube fame on top of presidency. Now that would be a truly global event, maybe next time!
Of course celeb-packed ads and big campaign-spends can cause ripples and get consumers talking, but building a desirable brand for the long term involves a lot more. Fame will be created if the experience matches the portrayed personality every time we meet the brand. Beyond this, momentum and innovation are the fuel of fame – stop moving and prepare to look for the exit door.