Marketing Superheroes

Posted on March 1, 2011

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superheroes

Marketing people don’t make great entrepreneurs.  It’s not their fault though, it’s just that the process of analysing a market, scoping the opportunity and planning an entrance strategy usually turn up reasons to investigate further and to delay the action. Entrepreneurs, in my experience, take action first and then analyse after and there is a lot to be said for that approach, or at least for adopting a more action-orientated approach in marketing.

Sometimes marketers over-market things and the result is a personality-free and homogeneous result to branding, packaging, campaigns and well, anything.  Sometimes, I think it’s actually better to go with your own creative gut instinct.

Hollywood is the perfect example.  How many films have been ruined by the marketing folks?  The insistence of shoehorning in a child into most plots, to “tug on the heart strings”, seems very de rigueur at most studios and it also ruins every movie where they do it.  How’s about just going with the original story which was written without a concern for average reading ages and whether “your average Joe” will understand it?   This is kind of the same point as the charity outrburst earlier this week, but it does grate on my nerves, in case you couldn’t tell.  I’m guessing if that’s the case your reading age is about 8.

Actually I’m told that the UK’s average reading age is 8 years old.  I don’t understand that statistic though.  If your reading age is that of an 8 year old, how do they measure an 8 year old’s reading age – don’t they have variations in ability at that age too?  Are you telling me that all 8 year olds are exactly the same?   If not then that statistic is meaningless, although with the education system in this country (apologies to the members of the family involved in teaching here) I think that the ultimate aim is to try to dumb down the output to the average.  Encouraging the gifted is terribly elitist isn’t it – but that’s another blog.

I have a book “Golfing Fundamentals” written by Ben Hogan in the fifties (a gofling great) and he uses the words “supinate and pronate” to describe the position your hands should be in at certain points in the swing.   Apparently he was asked to change the language to be more accessible and he refused, stating “they can look it up”,what a legend!

Ben Hogan

He would have made a fortune today

A quick aside, what is the optimum reading age?  Is it like sexual peak or do we keep getting better until senility hits?  On that note I do hope that Henry Kelly (of Going for Gold fame) doesn’t ever suffer from senility, there’s something particularly tragic about him sitting in a chair saying “Who am I? What am I?”.

Anyhow, back to the title of this blog, marketing superheroes.  A strange title considering the content so far, but then again I am hoping your reading age is in double figures and you’ll appreciate the depth of message here.  This blog isn’t about a quick hit, if you want that then you’re in the wrong place.

The point I’m trying to make is that Superheroes would not exist if marketing departments were charged with their creation.  Let’s take a look at a few examples:

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk would never have happened if it was left to marketing people.  Here’s why. First off, he is the result of gamma radiation.  That doesn’t sound good does it, an accident?  No your marketing department would consider this too unfortunate and not nearly inspirational enough.  In today’s society he would be green because he was put on Earth by mother nature to protect the planet from smog and other nasties.

The unmistakable fact that he is green would not be ignored, it would be a cornerstone of the “Hulk” brand, although the name would have to go of course.   The “Hulk” would be about green and reducing CO2 and punishing people who pollute the countryside.   When I say punish though I need to establish what punish means.  The Hulk wouldn’t actually harm anyone, he would help them, he’d be a non-violent pacifist who would be more liable to hug you than hit you.

Now for the prickly issue of his name.   It’s far too marginal and a little offensive.  No, no, no we can’t have Hulk – how’s about Giant instead, the Incredible Giant?  Although that doesn’t consider the green bit.   So what about The Incredible Green Giant?  Getting there, but there’s something else, can we really say he’s incredible, is that credible?  No, it probably isn’t, so let’s go with “Green Giant”.  Perfect, it says the right things and is “bang on” in terms of branding and merchandising, we could even sell peas using him to promote them.

Green Giant

Can't wait for the film, it will make the kiddies so ha-pea!

You can see why marketers should be used carefully, otherwise you end up with a dumbed-down, safe-for-the-masses, nothing.

Spiderman would become “The Worldwide Web”.  Superman would become “Average Person” and as for Batman, he’d probably be re-packaged for the pink pound, not that much re-packaging would need to be done.

Sometimes, I believe, people should follow their gut instincts.  We are not a danger to ourselves by going with what we instinctively feel we should do, most of the time at least – although admittedly not in the case of this man:

Over analysis paralysis is all too common in most marketing departments, maybe it’s time to take action people!

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Posted in: Marketing