January 29, 2008

Branding's Final Absurdity

There's very little fun left in the ad business, but one of the big chuckles we still get (secretly) is watching our clients go through idiotic "branding" exercises.

These con games last for months, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and generally have less impact on business than cleaning the drapes. Nonetheless, there are very clever companies out there making zillions of dollars convincing businesses that all they need to do is "fix their brand" and all will be well.

I can only compare the pain of participating in one of these exercises to putting on ski boots and watching Cats.

Now branding has reached the height of absurdity. Great Britain has embarked on a re-branding program. This is not a joke. Part of the process, introduced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government, is to find out "what does it mean to be British?" Well, Gordo, it used to mean you had an empire to run. Now it apparently means you have nothing better to do than sit on your fat ass and engage in the same type of moronic navel-gazing usually reserved for overfed CMO's.

To poke fun at this idea, the cynics at The Times of London sponsored a slogan writing contest for their readers for a new British "brand." My favorite entry: "At Least We're Not French."

A representative of the British government said that after writing a "statement of values", the government would... hold “an extensive and intensive” period of consultation with regular citizens on what being British means to them. Then it will convene a “citizens’ summit” of 500 to 1,000 people who will "deliberate on the matter."

Get out the ski boots.

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