The Russians Beat Us Into Space - And Look Where It Got Them

There is a movie called "The Naked Brand." It is a very good movie.

What a fine documentary this is, by the folks from Questus, the digital agency. The co-directors are Sherng-Lee Huang and Jeff Rosenblum, who is also co-founder of the agency. They wanted to explore the state of brand marketing in a world in which transparency has not been elected by but imposed upon companies and brands. And in which the public cares as much about brands’ conduct in the world as they do about the goods and services themselves. And in which, if the public is pleased, you are the beneficiary of advocacy -- and if the public is displeased, you are screwed to the wall.

Yes, it is a fine idea for a documentary, and they have pulled it off with style, grace and a whole lot of smart thinking. The film visits Tony Hsieh of Zappos, the people at Patagonia.. you know, the usual suspects. But the usual suspects say provocative things and really bring across the idea that marketing will never, ever be the same. And that brands that have long been part of the problem -- in wanton resource consumption, poor labor practices, highhanded conduct -- can now be part of the solution.

Watch as Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, explains Patagonia’s philosophy to take on supply chains costs in order to reduce environmental impact, knowing that its customers will pay a premium for peace of mind: “Every time we make a decision that's better for the environment, we make more money."

Watch Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour, explain why brands must act from their own point of view, rather than pander to the perceived tastes of the marketplace: “The best merchants are the ones who dictate the future, not the ones who try to predict it.”

Watch B. Bonin Bough -- now of Kraft Foods but previously of PepsiCo -- talk about Pepsi Refresh, which so inspired folks that they got all gooshy with him:

People would hug me,” Bough says. “I’ve never been hugged for any work I’ve done in my life. I barely get hugged at home.”

Well, "The Naked Brand" has more or less the same effect. It finds that Venn intersection of logic and emotion and invites you to embrace the possibilities. To see it is to want to race to work the next day. It’s just plain inspiring.

Goddamn it.

Because they took the words right of out my mouth. For the past year, my colleague Doug Levy and I have been laboring over a book on precisely the same topic, involving many of the same players, exploring the same phenomena and drawing more or less the same conclusions. A year.

Nor does that count the five years I've spent developing my thinking on these matters, and the 10 years Doug has spent incorporating them into his agency, MEplusYOU. Our book won’t be out till March. As previously discussed in this space, we don't know what the title will be. But we sure know what it will not be.

It will not be "The Naked Brand."

That's taken, I guess.

Now, the question is -- should Doug and I be disconsolate? My first thought was to lose myself in drink, to go on a 10-day bender and try to forget. And also to key Jeff Rosenblum's car. But that would be so childish, and also I have a dermatologist appointment coming up that took me two months to get. Furthermore, maybe this is a lucky break.

My last book, The Chaos Scenario, was a bit ahead of the curve. In predicting the collapse of mass media and marketing, I faced a lot of skepticism. People dismissed me for being a hysteric. (Now they dismiss me for belaboring the obvious.) So maybe by the time Still Freakin’ Untitled comes out, the world will be a little better prepared to consider our ideas. Maybe Huang and Rosenblum have greased the skids of popular acceptance. Maybe they are on the vanguard of the zeitgeist, and then Doug and I can saunter in right at the zeitgeist bullseye to wide admiration and acclaim. That would be good.

Still, this Questus doc does kill one aspect of our master plan: You know: 1) best seller  2) influence marketing and commerce worldwide and 3) …                  …movie rights. 

Goddamnit.

                 

                  

3 comments about "The Russians Beat Us Into Space - And Look Where It Got Them".
  1. Guy Champniss from Meltwater 1d9&co , July 16, 2012 at 11:15 a.m.
    Great post, and yes, I agree it makes for uplifting reading, and re-invigorates you to think that brand folk may just hold the key to a better - more enjoyable - future. I'm all for that. Maybe your book - and your efforts - can still square off one complicated piece though. All the texts, documentaries etc in this area tend to focus on companies that have launched with this mindset and ambition i.e. they have not had to evolve. But what about all those corporate behemoths that still account for 70c + of every $ spent? How can these whoppers turn towards being more authentic, more pro-social and more responsive to a broader net of consumer needs? Guy www.brandvalued.com
  2. Richard Gillam from DeskSite , July 16, 2012 at 11:37 a.m.
    Well Bob, as you well know, it takes a multi-platform, multi-ad approach to achieve notable concept/brand/message awareness; so the good news is that this documentary has simply laid down covering fire for your frontal charge…free of charge! Video is fun and all, but nothing is more impactful and lasting than the well written word…but you already knew that. ;-) I look forward to reading your latest – Richard
  3. neil rosenblum from Schonbek Worldwide Lighting , July 17, 2012 at 8:43 p.m.
    Review was fair, if a bit understated. Movie was eye opening, informative and highly entertaining. What more could you want? Watch out for the little kid who surprises and enlightens...