fairy sales

fairy sales
fairy sales


According to Laurence Vincent, what separates legendary brands from the rest is their narrative – the legends, the myths that accompany these brands throughout their existence. Their history, their private folklore, their ups and downs, their heroes.

What makes a brand mythical is, essentially, the Myth.

A myth, in its essence, is a third order of signification – derived from, and preceded by, denotation and connotation: “The connotation of the Sign becomes the Signifier of the Myth,” says Elliott Gaines. It is an extended metaphor that aides us to comprehend our own cultural experiences. In fact, according to Roland Barthes, myths are no less than the guidelines of our understanding, the prevailing beliefs in our culture. The “American dream” is a myth, which has shaped the mindset of a baffling portion of Westernized cultures. The notion of fairness of the judicial system; the expectation that “good will prevail”; the idea that “you will find true love” – these are all ideologies that we recognize and in which we believe. Myths naturalize cultural particularities: they take prevailing traditional notions and objectivize them; they make prevalent morals, beliefs and attitudes seem normal and rational; they “transform history into nature,” in the words of Barthes.

Kevin Roberts, in his book “Lovemarks,” has systematized the conversion of a trade mark into a “lovemark”, by describing a list of metamorphoses of the rational basics, which build a brand, into mythological elements:

  • Information becomes connection (relationship).
  • Recognition becomes fondness.
  • Wide application becomes personal.
  • Story becomes love.
  • Promise of quality becomes a touch of sensuality.
  • Symbolic character becomes iconic.
  • Certainty becomes saturation.
  • Statement becomes history.
  • Characteristics become enigma.
  • Values become spirit.
  • Professional character becomes commitment to creation.
  • Advertising becomes idea generation.

While Roberts analyzes what a brand needs to achieve, in order to become a “lovebrand”, he reaches the overall idea of “statement becomes history,” rational becomes cultural, connotation is built upon denotation, which is but the initial impetus for creating a narrative. Once this is achieved, maintained and reinforced, the narrative eventually grows into myth, essentially forcing the cultural element to incorporate normality, reaching a third level of signification, thus achieving mythological status. Hence, statement becomes history, which, in turn, becomes a new, undisputable statement.

Let us take a look at an Apple product: the extremely popular (at the moment of this writing) iPad. On a first order of signification level, it is a hardware product, a computer tablet. It is one of many hardware products available on the market today that consumers can choose from. The connotation it bears is that of lightness, ease of use, mobility and connectivity. It is the go-to product for on-the-go professionals, or people who desire to dispose of a quick and easy way to communicate and reach sources of information at all times. However, on the third level of signification – the mythological level – this product is loaded with the legendary status of Apple, the air of creative extremes, an embodiment of Maslow’s final tier – self-actualization. This is no longer just a useful product; rather, it is a self-identification instrument, a tool that allows its owner to declare him- or herself intelligent, creative, elite, cool.

The fairy tale that is Apple is the basis, upon which this strong brand presence is built and which, in turn, has led to such extremes in customer loyalty. The Apple (and Steve Jobs) story possesses all the elements of a fairy tale. Analysis of fairy tale structure and function, described and developed by Propp, Levi-Strauss and Greimas, suggests that there exist concrete narrative themes, actions and actors (actants). These basic elements are set within the story in three main binary oppositions: subject-object, sender-receiver and helper-opponent.

The subject is the hero, the one who is on a quest, trying to achieve (reach/find) a goal – the object. In the Apple story, and according to its legend, the subject is Steve Jobs, and the object is changing the world.

The sender is the one who sends the object; in this case, this is an inanimate entity – American culture (which also is a myth in and of itself and, in this case, represents a necessary pre-requisite for the narrative), since the object is an ideal, a purpose, rather than a material item.

The receiver is the destination of the object; Greimas argues that the subject and the receiver are, essentially, one and the same, which is clearly the case in this particular instance of the fairy tale – Apple (and Steve Jobs).

The helper is an actant, who assists the subject – here that would most likely be Steve Wozniak, the other notable founder of Apple, or companies and other external forces, that have, one way or another, aided Apple in its quest.

And finally, the opponent is the actant who attempts to interfere and hinder the subject’s quest; in Apple’s legend that was IBM, at first, and later on – Microsoft, Google, Samsung, et cetera.

The main construction of the fairy tale mimics basic sentence structure, where we have a subject-verb-object sequence: Steve Jobs (Apple) achieves success (in changing the world). Evidently, an oppositional force exists, exhibiting a “frictional” force in a vector, reverse to the subject’s action: IBM achieves success before Apple (i.e. IBM starts competing with Apple). This is a basic binary opposition where we have a protagonist opposite an antagonist.

Fairy tales are generally simple: characters are one-dimensional, possessing only positive or only negative traits; actions are clean and unidirectional, without any meandering. Barthes explains in his “Mythologies”:

Myth does not deny things, on the contrary, its function is to talk about them; simply, it purifies them, it makes them innocent, it gives them a natural and eternal justification, it gives them a clarity which is not that of an explanation but that of a statement of fact. If I state [a fact] without explaining it, I am very near to finding that it is natural and goes without saying: I am reassured. In passing from history to nature, myth acts economically: it abolishes the complexity of human acts, it gives them the simplicity of essences, it does away with all dialectics, with any going back beyond what is immediately visible, it organizes a world which is without contradictions… Things appear to mean something by themselves…

This simplicity, depicting the hero as inherently good, while the villain is undisputedly evil, comes out of fairy tales and myths, and transcends into our perception of the events surrounding us. When we observe, or are part of, conflicts, we resort to this basic binary opposition, which is rooted deep within our perceptions, as it is one of the ideologies that we believe in, derived from myth-borne naturalization. In every conflict, in which we sympathize (and identify) with one of the opposing sides, we unconsciously apply this paradigm to our perception of the situation and side with whomever we perceive to be “the hero” of the narrative.

Naturally, the definition of the villain is clearly dependent on the stance and point of view: to some, Coca Cola is the hero, while to others it is clear that Pepsi is the protagonist – it all depends on the direction of the narrative’s vector that we choose to follow. Brand opposition takes place within a frame that is different from that of a fairy tale – it does not usually come with predefined role designations for the actants and the consumer (the observer) is free to assign them as he or she pleases.

A brand fares well if it nurtures its fairy tale. However, if its story remains passive in the past, and its narrative is based mostly on its legend(s), it may be faced with losing its legendary state. Strong brands, international or local, have been known to lose their vital force, while others keep growing strong.

One main characteristic of brand virility is the fact that these brands constantly perpetuate or re-invent their fairy tale. Essentially, this is what J.C. Larreche dubs “momentum”: “Momentum accumulates energy from its own success and provides ever-increasing acceleration for firms smart enough to build and harness it.”

Should the antagonists be defeated, the brand will re-populate their empty space with a new villain: once Apple outran IBM, it clashed with Microsoft (and later, on other fields – with Google and Samsung). Should the goal be achieved, a new goal must be set; or rather, should the brand get too close to achieving its goal, it will “inflate” or shift it, once again turning it into a “dream” that it (and its loyal consumers, by means of empathy!) have to strive to achieve: once Apple had created a best-selling consumer product that changed the world (by all means, the iPod and iPhone changed the landscape of personal electronics, the way we interact with our personal computers, the way we listen to music, the way we communicate, etc.), it gracefully entered a new niche – tablet computers – and once again set the mythology pendulum into motion.

Naturally, the new niche comes with brand new villains.

why is advertising not art?

Why is advertising not art? A quality commercial, after all, is almost as cinematographically loaded as the next European award-winning film. Also, is a high-profile print advert not an exercise in conceptual photography? Doesn’t advertising rely on emotions, feelings, sense of style and appreciation of beauty?

If so, why is advertising not art?

Apart from any utilitarian arguments – such as “advertising is just a marketing tool” – the key (or a key) lies within our ever so favorite notion of willing suspension of disbelief. More precisely, in the “willing” part. Even more accurately – the lack of it.

See, what happens when we perceive art – and I’m not just talking about observing it, but about actual in-depth involvement with a piece – is that we are initially aware of our physical and temporal “not-there-ness”. Yet, we choose to let go of our immediate reality, in order to allow the piece of art to penetrate and possess us. Whoever has cried at a movie, play or a musical piece, knows exactly what I mean. Or maybe you held your breath with suspense, or pulled the blanket over your head in absolute terror…

Advertising can do that as well, you say?

You are absolutely right.

Albeit infrequently, advertising masterpieces will make us cry. Or laugh, or fear, or fume… Naturally! Advertising relies on emotion, more so than rationale, to deliver its message to us. (It’s just so much faster!)

But where, then, is the boundary between art and advertising?

What lies beneath our willing suspension of disbelief – a state of permeability in which we knowingly put ourselves – is a deeper, unconscious suspension of disbelief. The former relates to the particular instance of advertising to which we are being subjected, which talks to our conscious self. The latter – to the brand that is secretly talking to our unconscious.

How is that?

The very piece of advertising that we are perceiving is a single message. It is attuned to the brand’s overall tone, resonating with its historical communication patterns. It is just a new layer of lacquer, applied to the luster of the brand.

The brand itself relies on multiple, superstructural instances over time, of different – yet coordinate – messages. Season after season, year over year, companies strive to build their brands by appealing to us – the consumers – and hoping that we will perceive them as they desire. Generally, a brand has existed for a while (or, to be more factually correct, many brands have existed for a while), and we are intrinsically accustomed to this fact. Virtually all people, living in developed countries, are so used to brands, that we perceive them as something natural, something ordinary, legitimate – essential, if you will. They have become a kind of a social instinct for us. And it is within the banality of their existence that their credibility rests. This state of mundane validity makes brands almost feel eternal, existing beyond time – like fairy tales, or folklore. Even newcomers inherit this property, seeing as they are brands, and this property is (or seems to be) indigenous to brands overall.

So now you probably see where this is going.

While we may or may not willingly suspend our disbelief, while being subjected to any particular advertisement, we are but ignorant to the fact that our perception of the products or services it stands for has already been altered by their very association with a brand. This is the unconscious suspension of disbelief that marks the art-advertising frontier. In fact, you may not be paying much attention to a commercial (let alone diving into its temporary take on reality), but the suspension is there. After all, you believe that Volvo is safe; you feel that you Open Happiness with Coca-Cola (yes, you do, even if you prefer to use other words); you believe that Apple is innovative and high-quality… You don’t need proof.

Because you know.

колко е важно да имаш късмет

Четох какви ли не книги за професионалния успех.
И статии.
И по семинари ходих.

Все неща изречени от звездите на бизнеса и бизнес литературата.
Звездите ни го говорят!

Този бил преуспял защото А, онзи бил станал велик защото Б, пък трети създал намсикво защото В

И сигурно е така, кой съм аз да не повярвам на тия големи хора, аналитични умове, които аналитично умуват и умно анализират, та до разни заключения и обобщения да стигнат!

Сигурно тези велики умове (които в статия след статия, книга след книга и лекция след лекция ни казват едно и също по различен начин, докато най-после всички не разберем какво ни казват, и всеки от нас стане преуспял предприемач и блестящ пример) вярват, че сме достатъчно интелигентни, образовани и амбициозни, че знаем за късмета и няма нужда да ни обясняват нищо за него.

Колко ли от нас спокойно се борят с предизвикателствата и си мислят, че късметът не е фактор?

Разбира се, чел съм някакъв жалък процент от всички написани статии и книги, и съм посетил още по-малък процент от лекциите на тия бизнес мислители, та сигурно съм пропуснал…

Но мисля, че за късмета трябва да се говори повече и по-често. Всеки път. За да знаем и за него, не само за постоянството, упоритостта, настойчивостта, оригиналността, съобразителността, различността, неочакваността, аналитичността и т.н.

Аз съвсем накратко мисля да си кажа мойто, пък каквото ще да става!

Късметът е фактор. Сериозен, при това.

И след един разговор с баща ми, стигнахме до 2 прости извода:

1. Късметът е чиста статистика. При шанс за успех 1/1000, колкото повече пъти опиташ, толкова по-вероятно е да успееш. Опитвай! Ама наистина, не просто да “маркираш” опит.

2. Мисли за сърфистите. Късметът е като вълнà – минава, понася те и отминава. Ако не знаеш как да плуваш, може и да те удави. Но ако знаеш как да управляваш дъската си – тогава можеш да го яхнеш с кеф.

И така, всичките тия съвети за прокопсията сигурно са верни, дори повечето от тях се отнасят към т.2 изложена по-горе. Но ми се ще да бъдат поставени в правилния контекст.

Като говорим за дъски за сърф, нека споменем и морето, а?


P.S. Неизбежно някой е писал за късмета. Не съм го прочел. Това не пречи да си дудна.

БГ Сайтване

Казах ли ви, че ще участвам в журито на БГ Сайт 2011?

Ето, казвам ви 🙂

Не съм участвал досега, та предполагам, че ще бъде интересно. Пък и досега мойта критикарска муцуна само на приятелски сбирки е споделяла мнението си за сайтове, сайтчета и сайтища.

Замислих се по какъв начин ще оценявам сайтове. Със сигурност ще бъда субективен, не мисля, че бих могъл да избягам от това – човек съм, не машина. Но ще се постарая да гледам на нещата от максимално много различни ъгли, за да успея поне някак да обективизирам мнението си.

След като помислих малко, стигнах до възможно най-простия извод: Първото впечатление ми е първо по важност. Е как защо! Защото ако на пръв поглед един сайт ме изплаши, вероятно ще го Хиксна и няма да се върна повече.

След това идва ред на цял куп изисквания относно съдържанието, които са ми важни: Авторски текстове, добри и адаптирани преводи на чужди материали, цитиране на източници… Правопис… Все неща, които твърде често НЕ срещам. А би трябвало.

Ама наистина, дали повече ме интересуват маркетингови данни свързани с американския пазар на Фейсбук реклама, или данните за България и региона? Честно? Стига с тия безбройни преводи на едни и същи статии от Gizmodo, AdAge, etc.! Искам нещо топло-топло, тъкмо извадено от фурната. Не претоплени кутийки с храна от снощната вечеря на някой маркетингов сайт.

А, и друго нещо – ако разглеждам сайт, в който са представени продукти или услуги, искам да мога да разбера всичко за тях. Наистина се дразня, когато примерно никъде не виждам цена. Трябва да търся другаде и си тръгвам. Ей такива малки подробности са ми важни.

Е, ще видим, те критериите тепърва ще си се появяват един по един.

Чувствам се зъл 🙂 🙂 🙂

10 прости правила

Интересуват ви социалните кампании?

Искате да се свържете с вашите потребители?

Искате да генерирате awareness?

Искате… нещо там с Фейсбук?


Ето 10 прости правила:

1: Не разчитайте на списъци с прости правила!

2: Не разчитайте на conversation calendars!

3: Не мислете, че страничка във Фейсбук = социална кампания!

4: Не мислете, че видео в YouTube = viral!

5: Не насилвайте нещата!

6: Не тръгвайте на лов за “лайкове”!

7: Не бъдете надменни!

8: Не бъдете сервилни!

9: Не бъдете резервирани!

10: Общувайте!

Бонус: Ама наистина не разчитайте на списъци с прости правила!