14 December 2009

new coke

An article from Wired UK titled "Meet Bruce Mau. He wants to redesign the world." has been making the rounds on the innertubes lately. I like & admire Bruce Mau. He has insightful opinions about brands & branding, & I'm impressed Coca Cola looked to him for his point of view. But a couple sentences early in the article made me stop reading, suddenly & utterly bored.

"Mau observed later that [a commenter at a business conference] was ... representative of what Coke and every other company is up against these days: a public that is more aware of, and concerned about, what firms are doing - and one that also has more ability to question and challenge business than ever before. Companies such as Coke are realising that they must adapt and adjust their behaviour to survive this new level of scrutiny."

I often think of brands as people. Are they doing something interesting? Something new? Are they standing tall for what they believe in, sticking to their guns, fighting the good fight? Or any fight. And are they ... you know. Nice? Would I want to talk to this person at a party?

Coca Cola makes sugar water. (Delicious, delicious sugar water, mmmm.) Not new, not that interesting. Okay, so maybe their tastes & values are different than mine. But Mau is suggesting they seek out what people want from them, then change the whole timbre of the brand. He's advising a huge multinational corporation to become boring, sycophantic, & kind of ... sad. I don't want to talk to that person at a party.

It's not that I don't think Coca Cola should be held accountable — I do. And it's good that people are looking closer at the companies to whom they give their money — I'm a fan of voting with money. It's the "adapting & adjusting their behavio(u)r to this new level of scrutiny." No. Be awesome, for its own sake. Or don't be awesome. But always be something. Even you, Coca Cola.

— · — · — · — · — · — · —

Okay, okay, I finished the article. Okay. Curiosity got the better of me, & I was willing to be outraged. (Outrage can be good!) And I re-discovered that Bruce Mau is fucking rad. But I also have very little faith that all the ways in which Coca Cola is attempting to re-organize the company — to "make more sustainable, make more of what we love, using less of what we need" — has anything to do with Coca Cola suddenly becoming awesome thought-leaders & everything to do with Coca Cola wanting everyone to love them, just please won't we only love them, & doing whatever it takes to that end whether they believe in what they're doing or not. And, like I said, that's sad. And the mark of insecurity & fear. And disappointing.


Anonymous said...

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view

Katie O'Shea said...

You're right — to get more readers, my posts ought to be more dynamic. (My posts could also be more frequent, but that's another matter.) Having said that, I believe that my writing, itself, has a very personal approach, with a clear point of view. People who know me personally say I write like I speak: Colloquially, quickly, self-deprecatingly, smartly.

But your comment gave me pause — Do I really want a greater readership? I'm not certain that I do. I write here mostly to get ideas out of my head (& to have evidence that I had them, lest I should forget). I think I'm okay without a large readership. Though, who knows, maybe I'd like being read by millions.

It's interesting that you write this now; I'm about to head out on a work-sponsored trip, & I've been urged to write about it on the company blog. I'll take your comment into consideration for those posts (as well as future posts here). So: Thank you, Anonymous.

Lastly, & I say this with a little sideways grin on my face, comments posted anonymously do not have a personal approach!

Anonymous said...

I didn't understand the concluding part of your article, could you please explain it more?