Dancing + Chewing Gum = Joy, Courage and Leadership
July 14, 2008 § 2 Comments
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.