When I read the above (not the Bahamas part) in books and columns, or hear it from the dais at conferences, I usually chuckle, smirk a little and think something along the lines of, "If I were a marketer, I'm not sure I'd want a brand advocate for whom brand advocacy is high on their list of life's priorities. This isn't a brand advocate, dudes; it's someone who needs therapy and a life."
Yes, it all seemed so alien to me. Not that it can't work wonders for a brand. Look at the poster child for professional brand advocates who need to get a life, Jared over at Subway. Jared Fogle, the one-time embodiment of how a healthy diet of salubrious Subways can change your life. Kudos to Subway. The weight-loss part of his story is now ancient history, the origins myth, as anthropologists would say.
What he now represents is something even greater: the meta advocate, the living avatar of “we the consumers”: a regular, TV-watching, app-using, fast-food eating, meme-repeating, pop-culture referencing, weight-watching American: not real smart; not too articulate; about as deep as matzoh; and un-good looking in a goofy, non-threatening sort of way. Making him the brand spokesperson was a big risk because he has no life. But that's why it worked: Most of us think we need to get a life, so we can relate. He's the slacker ambassador to the nation of overachievement (to people like Michael Phelps, who really have a life, albeit one spent going back and forth in a pool.)
Well, he wasn't my ambassador. Now he is. Now I get it. A couple of weeks back I had to get a new phone because I'd destroyed my previous one. On purpose, I might add. I have anger issues and I'd hated that phone from the day I bought it. It wasn't a feature phone, but calling it a smartphone would be grading on a curve. A steep curve. It was damned stupid. I'd insult it daily and I probably hurt its feelings. Finally, it pissed me off so much that I put it on the floor in the subway and — as discreetly as possible — stomped on it five times (the phone before that met its demise the moment it met my living room wall at high velocity.) Now it was dumb with a vengeance, literally: when I swiped I got splinters.
So I got a new smartphone, and it's really smart. It has changed my life.
It does incredible things. It's 4G. It can do things I cannot quite believe. It makes beautiful water droplet sounds when I swipe it to unlock. I carry it around and toy with it as if it were a string of rosary beads. I have a personal relationship with it; it speaks to me; I speak to it; I keep it in a special rubberized shrine; and I believe in it. And because it is such an amazing experience, I want to tell everyone about it. I evangelize about it to anyone who will listen. All the baristas at “Death by Coffee” know about it now. And I tell them to buy it. I actually do. I've told everyone at work. And here I am writing a column about it. I’m changing my name to Jared.