Dancing + Chewing Gum = Joy, Courage and Leadership

July 14, 2008 § 2 Comments

I’d like to thank Jennifer A. Jones and Dan Greenfield for calling to my attention a wonderful video and a great story that I feel demonstrates the best of what branding should be.

A fellow named Matt Harding has been traveling the world and marking each location visited with a short video of himself doing a silly dance. Sometimes he dances alone and sometimes he dances with the local people. It is simple, charming, beautiful and joyous. At this point about 6 million+ viewers on YouTube seem to agree.

But there is a little bit more to the story. It turns out that Mr. Harding’s former employer, Stride Gum, has taken on the role of sponsor for this remarkable project. Stunningly, they have not plastered their name and logo all over the video. Matt wears no Stride apparel. The song played on the video is not a corporate anthem. It doesn’t even look like Matt is chewing gum! The only mention of Stride is in a simple thank you graphic at the very end of the video. This is GREAT branding. Instead of trying to “own” the project, Stride is content to lets it happen. Instead of trying to milk the publicity, Stride lets the message spread – and boy is it spreading! By all the standards of conventional wisdom, by all the instincts of the old marketing, this was a risky, even reckless, act. But marketing is changing, and what this project has shown us is that a sincere message, an expression of values, IS important, and if we have the courage to present such a message with integrity people will respond. As Dan points out, “I am writing about a chewing gum company now.By all measures this has been a great path for Stride – sales are up, market share is increasing, and awareness is on the rise, or as Jennifer states it, “Clearly, the goofy dance is moving the needle.”

I think also that by recognizing Matt Harding as a leader, and by leaving him essentially unfettered by the usual corporate billboarding, Stride Gum has shown itself to be a leader. We can’t help but assume that the positive values demonstrated in the video: joy, hope, and a global generosity of spirit, are values shared by the sponsor who has supported the production with such humble integrity.

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§ 2 Responses to Dancing + Chewing Gum = Joy, Courage and Leadership

  • dlaw says:

    This is a great example of how the new marketing creates *with* people rather than *for* people.

    If those people on the video didn’t have the desire to dance, if we viewers didn’t have the desire to travel to all those places and dance with them (if only in our minds and hearts), there would be no campaign.

    Stride gum is very right not to put its name on the thing because Stride didn’t create it.

    Stride makes chewing gum. Almost everybody likes chewing gum. So Stride asked itself, correctly: What is another thing that almost everybody likes?”

    Dancing, seeing pictures of far-away lands, seeing people come together. Stride helped make an instance of that happen and now, when people see that Stride was associated with it, they will see that Stride chewing gum is at least marketed by people who understand the fundamental benefit of capitalism – bringing people together across social boundaries to enjoy more stuff.

  • Mark says:

    I’m not sure how much more gum they’ll sell, but there has GOT to be some benefit making someone grin for 4.5 minutes.

    I think I’ll try that dance myself today.

    Hmmm…

    Since the video left such a good taste in my mouth, maybe the gum is worth a try.

    Yikes!

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