Farnaz on Cultures and Archetypes, Featured, New World Trends, New Realities

Who Is The Dark Knight? Marketers’ Responsibilities for Social Movement

Last weekend, I saw the new batman movie, The Rise of the Dark Knight.   I always liked the super-hero movies, not just to see the latest production magic, but also because the good guys always win and save the world.  The recent Aurora massacre and tragedy at this movie made me think through a bifocal lens.  Somehow, The Dark Knight Rises survives the darkest night in US movie history.  I can’t say that I believe in limiting the filmmaker’s artistic vision of a super-hero story, because one psychopath picked this movie to commit a mass murder.  I can’t completely fault good marketers who achieved the second highest midnight opening in history and are trying to change upcoming plans in response to current events.  The videogame industry is larger than the movie box office, and movies in general are not as violent as videogames.  This speaks to a greater culture of violence, which is a reflection of our society’s mind in general.

But I asked myself why would Warner Brothers, among others, promote “midnight opening” of a PG-13 movie and allow ignorant parents to bring their very small children to a midnight showing of such an adult movie?  I questioned why we have more restrictions, screening and licenses for owning a car than owning a gun?  I question why companies, such as Apple, can choose whether to sell products to Iranian-American citizens due to economic sanction, but gun control interferes with American freedom.

2012 truly marks the year where marketers can expect which programs will help establish new branding norms, while others protect the status quo, and at the very best, serve as lessons learned.

In a revolutionary world where consumers are increasingly inspired to stand up against Corporations with brand backlashes, aligning with popular entertainment or simply getting behind a charity sponsorship is not enough.  The New World Marketplace demands an honest, authentic blend of social movement with social responsibility to lead the social and cultural change.

Consumers are hungry for stories and issues that have real meaning and substance.  Brand building is like story telling, and marketers have resources and clout to explore and tell the stories that consumers hold dear and close to their hearts, and bring new ideas to life.   Consumers are well aware of companies’ fiduciary responsibilities, but they will purchase from those who connect with higher purpose and shared values–they know the difference between an honest cause and just another way to make profit.

Can we look at unfortunate events and learn something different?  Yes.  But first, brands must evaluate their Value Proposition for their cause and movement.  If it doesn’t create something better and more meaningful for the target market, there won’t be any motivation and engagement.  Maybe movie marketers can go beyond editing trailers and re-evaluate their ratings, or at least minimum age for PG-13 attendance—demonstrate that they truly care about what’s right.  Maybe Apple, among other companies, can stop racial profiling regardless of government initiatives.

Any good value proposition will have trade-offs as well as benefits.  We are living in a bitterly divided political nation these days, and as easy as it is to judge the political candidates on their strategic trade-offs, it is nearly impossible to create a social movement and brand differentiation without them.  The Dark Knight is not just a fantasy.  We will always have dark and light forces all around us in life.  Decide which side of this movement you want to walk on.


Is your business retail ready for new multicultural customers?

Everyday businesses across America open for business. Who is walking through the door has changed significantly. We’ve had a decade of rapid multicultural growth, aging whites and housing boom and bust. Is your business ready to serve the needs of the New World Marketplace customers in this transformational decade?

Here are some shocking facts recently released by 2010 census:

  • Hispanics now account for more than half of the US population increase over the last decade…a new milestone: 50 million, or 1 in 6 Americans. Among US children, Hispanics are already 1 in 4 of all newborns.
  • More than 9 million Americans checked more than one race category…up 32% from 2000…a sign of multiracial growth.
  • Hispanics and Asians are the two fastest growing demographic groups, increasing about 42% from 2000…Asians for the first time had the largest numeric gain than African Americans.
  • Multiracial Americans are on track to increase by more than 25%.
  • What’s even more shocking is that most companies still define “multicultural branding” as African American marketing…or if they are a bit more progressive, African American & Latino event sponsorships with possibly a small percent of ad budget. Really? Think again!!!

Here are a few frameworks to consider:

  • Re-evaluate your core target. What is “General Market” afterall?
  • Consider business models that capitalizes on motivations and attitudes with multicultural dimensions.
  • It is no longer about degree of acculturation and melding with the mainstream culture. It is now about influencing , shaping and defining it!!!
  • Dig deeper into the values and beliefs of your new multicultural customers….how they live, love, play…what they fear, resent…why they consume what they do. This goes beyond common held assumptions found in research questionnaires.
  • Choose an “emotional space” to create a meaningful relationship with your multicultural customers….choose how you’d like your multiculti customer to feel after walking into your business. It’s an outside/in mindset.

The key to the kingdom is changing hands. Multiculturalism is now the rule, not the exception. Take time to really understand your new customers, who are the potential growth that is walking in your door.




It’s 2011, do you know who your customers really are?

Happy New Year.  There is something truly exciting and profound about the start of a new year.  A sense of new found energy to channel emotional, creative and ethical intelligence….our sense of bigger purpose, causes and beliefs.  Like it or not, recent economic changes have had strong effect on all cultures and businesses.  This is a great time to ask your team, “where are the gaps in your current strategy and delivery systems in this New World Marketplace?”

I am starting my 2011 blog series with “New World Strategies” to help you and your team examine your strategy in terms of what your brand offers and how to align values with the New world customers.

Let’s first start with text book definition of “Strategy”:  Which customers, which needs and at what relative price.  It’s not about competing to be the“best”, it’s about being “different”.   It’s just as much about what-not-to-do, as it is about what-to-do.  A combination of benefits and trade-offs your brand offers.  A mutually profitable value proposition between you and your customers, that differentiates you from all other alternatives and competitors.

How is the “New World Strategy” any different?  Think about how “which customers” and “which needs” are constantly changing.  Women are now majority of the work force…for every 2 men that get a college degree, 3 women do the same….1/3 of US population is non-white….1 out of 3 kids being born in the US will have a parent who is an immigrant….If you haven’t read my blog on “What is the New World Marketplace”, click and read now.  There is shocking statistics.  Today, it is all about organizations and leaders embracing the velocity of this transformation to achieve future profitability.

Critical demographic and cultural shifts are changing the faces and needs of the New World customers.  The way your brand’s shifts and changes your customers experiences and lives, versus the alternatives and competitors, will define your success.  Examine your current strategy.  This means a new mindset of becoming your own future rival and forsaking your past prejudices and orthodoxies that exist in most organizations today.  Think about understanding what is changing in the New World Marketplace and why ~ within emotional and cultural frameworks ~ not our traditional rational frameworks…. features, facts and figures do not define behavior.  It’s really a lot more fluid than that.

Cultural and emotional frameworks are critical touchstones for future profitability.  People don’t buy what you do, but why you do it.  Most organizations know what and how to sell, but do they know why?  This means aligning your values with those of your New World customers, believing in what they believe ~ and vice versa.  Today’s shared reality is far more authentic and intuitive than ever before. We’ve got an exciting, yet evolving year ahead.  I’ll be sharing new data points and case studies throughout the year.  If you are seeing micro or macro trends in your business that you would like to discuss, I’d love to hear from you.