Commentary

The Gap Between Intent And Action Is A Chasm

In my book  “Z.E.R.O.,” I make several references and extend several metaphors to weight -- and specifically obesity. It’s a particular passion point of mine, a cause I identify with strongly for a bunch of personal reasons.

I draw a parallel to our media industry in danger of collapsing under its own girth. Later in the book, I talk about marketer lethargy, inertia and inactivity with a very direct call-to-action: Hey fatso, time to hit the gym!

It’s a bit of tough love connected to our industry’s own epidemic, namely the inability to break bad habits, get out of our own way and make a change.

Sadly, our go-to solution for weight loss is often the one involving the least physical work. Bariatric surgery and gastric bypass are two procedures which (don’t get me wrong) are not “easy” choices, but at the same time are also not the equivalent of six to 12 months of sustained diet and exercise.

Perhaps the problem is the environment in which we live and operate. I come into contact with too many marketers who absolutely want to make the change, but they just don’t have the strength to take on the slow-moving, political, resistant-to-change machine they operate in.

Blame it on television -- like the glamorized appeal of reality television. So much so that my 6-year old recently said on vacation, “I’m just going to eat as much junk food as I want, because when I’m older I can go on ‘The Biggest Loser’!” Time for a change at home, I think! “The Biggest Loser” is dealing with its own controversy right now with the whopping 155-pound weight loss of its champion, Rachel Frederickson, who went from morbidly obese to underweight.

If we learn anything from the show, it’s that there is a considerable amount of emotional baggage factored into the equation. No one wants to be grossly overweight. No one wants to be unhealthy. No one wants to be unhappy. And yet more and more Americans are putting on weight every day.

The same could be said for brand marketers who know inherently that they need to change (rational, head, logic) but for some reason, are unable to make the commitment (irrational, heart, emotion) to change.

Or those marketers who feel the pain, the pressure, the urgency and the intensity to implement drastic and dramatic change -- but, when faced with signing off on a program that could conceivably deliver sweeping change, get cold feet and revert to the aforementioned tests and experiments.

The compromise is to invest in “small change” -- whether a series of pilot programs, tests, experiments or just a cultural commitment to adopt a more lean-forward, risk-inclined approach -- or “big change.”.

Weight loss is all about hard work and dedication. No pain. No gain.

Weight loss is all about slow and steady wins the race. It’s all about “winning the hour” or “winning the day” (phrases Nike uses with its Fuelband). It’s all about incremental -- almost unnoticeable -- daily weight loss, which one day “tips” and amazes all and sundry. Weight gain is the same.

As the saying goes, “when the pain of not changing is greater than the pain of changing, that’s when change happens.” Why does it have to come to that? Why do your pants need to split in order to make the change? Why does your frog have to croak in its boiling water in order to recognize the party is over? Why do you need to be restructured for the umpteenth time in order to course-correct?

A healthy and happy brand (like a person) is lean.

A healthy and happy brand (like a person) is active.

A health and happy brand (like a person) is spontaneous.

Isn’t it time to make the leap (of faith) from intent to action and, once and for all, shed that puppy fat in search of a new and improved you -- er, brand?

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