What Is The National Interest?

I just read this article on CNN.com that the cute little Chinese girl who sang at the Opening Ceremonies in Beijing was actually lip synching. The actual singer was chosen for her voice, but deemed not cute enough for TV. CNN quotes the ceremony’s musical director saying, “The reason was for the national interest. The child on camera should be flawless in image, internal feeling and expression.”

It cracks me up that the Chinese officials (who are used to controlling their media) did this “for the national interest” and may have made the country look like more of a joke. One thing I love about communists: they’re a very consistent brand.
I bring this up because it reminds me of clients who think that they are still in 100% control of what their brand is and how others will interpret it. Jim recently wrote about the knee-jerk reaction some clients have, assuming they’re in complete control of their brands.
It’s easy for creatives to snigger and poke fun of clients like this. And, yeah, maybe they deserve it. But when it’s our own clients, and when they start talking to themselves, and when we start listening, I think the onus is on ¬†us to raise a red flag.

O-O-P-S for -20 points

If you were one of the half million people who played Scrabulous on Facebook, or one of the 47,000 who belonged to the “Save Scrabulous” Facebook group, you know that Tuesday was a sad and infuriating day for many people. Due to legal action from Hasbro, Scrabulous was taken down.

If you’ve read Alex Wipperfurth’s Brand Hijack (which I highly recommend), this is not an unfamiliar story. Large corporations often have this kind of knee-jerk reaction when fans take a brand they love and create something new with it. Companies try to control and define their brands so closely that they lose touch with what’s really important–their avid fans. Wipperfurth’s main assertion is that companies need to let go of their brands and let their fans help define them. They should encourage this fanaticism and support these re-inventions.

Scrabulous is the perfect example. I’m sure people at Hasbro argued that customers were playing Scrabulous online instead of buying new Scrabble boards. But I have a feeling that Scrabulous just created more Scrabble addicts, put Scrabble in the forefront of people’s minds and reminded them how great of a game it is. Was there a Hasbro logo on it? No. Did anyone care? Only Hasbro. In the end, Scrabulous probably made more Scrabble fans than anything. And now Hasbro has pissed all those fans off.