How ‘Boring’ Brands Can Rage Against The Machine

November 28, 2016

If you operate in a low interest sector there is a danger of accepting your fate and no longer trying to entertain your audience with your content, leaving for a mush of bland corporate messages.

While it’s fine to embrace the things that makes your industry unique – even if they happen to be a little on the dull side – you’ve still got to ensure that you understand and deliver for your audience.

For instance, there’s no point in creating a fun and rousing campaign if it isn’t going to resonate with your audience. Similarly, there’s no value in creating extremely useful content if it proves too boring for people to consume.

As we see it, the magic formula is to create content that elevates your brand away from its boring tag, but does so in a way that is self-aware so that your audience don’t feel entirely disconnected from the thing you’re trying to sell.

In essence, you’ve got to make your content stand out, but not so much that it looks out of place in your industry. The best way to explain our thinking on this is to look at a few examples of brands who have succeeded in making viral content in spite of operating in a low interest sector:

Blendtec

US-based Blendtec manufactures blenders, would you believe... Now, blenders only have one function, of course – to blend stuff – so there’s not too many ways you can go about igniting the brand experience.

However, Blendtec embraced it’s one and only function and took it to the extreme: blending objects which you might assume are ‘unblendable’ such as an iPad, a golf ball and a Rubik’s Cube, to name but a few of the items that have undergone the Will it Blend? test.

The results make for some addictive viewing, with Blendtec’s videos still proving popular a decade after the first episode of Will it Blend? was launched on YouTube. Oh, and the company’s sales have risen by a massive 700% as a result of the campaign, research suggests.

Andrex

Is there anything less ‘sexy’ than toilet paper? As a product, it would appear to be a marketer’s nightmare, which is probably why Andrex decided it was best off associating with adorable Labrador puppies as a way of getting round the taboo of talking about anything toilet-related.

However, it’s changed its tack recently and started to talk more openly about the function of its product – albeit using children to disseminate its message. Commenting on this shift in approach, the Guardian wrote: “Andrex reckon children are more open to considering questions of intimate care, since they have yet to convert years of disappointment into crippling personal anxieties.”

Its campaign, which sees children describing how Andrex’s towelette leaves them feeling “As clean as a butterfly”, might very well “encourage us grown-ups to abandon stuffy societal convention”, the Guardian suggests. I’m not so sure myself, but at the very least, it has got people talking about the brand.

Virgin America Airlines

We’re going back a few years now, but we had to because Virgin America managed to do the impossible: make an extremely watchable airline safety video.

By teaming up with movie director Jon M. Chu – responsible for films such as Step Up 2 and G.I. Joe: Retaliation – Virgin America created an airline safety video that has been watched by millions of people. On top of that, it enjoyed hundreds of thousands of shares on social media – reward for turning a boring industry standard on its head.

Let’s be frank here, the airline had to stump up the cash to do so, signing up ten So You Think You Can Dance stars, two former Olympians, and one American Idol finalist, alongside Chu.

However, you don’t have to pay extortionate amounts of money to defy convention and to show your audience that things don’t have to be a certain way.  

Nor do you have to be a B2C firm to have license to create an inspiring campaign, as American multinational conglomerate General Electric (GE) have proved with its podcast ‘The Message’. GE operates through a number of ‘less-than-sexy’ B2B industries: power & water, oil and gas, aviation, healthcare, transportation and capital. However, despite this, it has created something truly compelling with its fictional sci-fi podcast ‘The Message’, which spent some time at No.1 on iTunes.

People love to revolt against ‘the norm’. To make reference to this post’s title – as proof of people’s unwillingness to settle for what is considered to be the norm – US rep metal band Rage Against the Machine were the focus of a successful Facebook campaign to prevent The X Factor winner's “boring” song from gaining the Christmas number one in the United Kingdom for the fifth successive year.

The song was successful because people had grown tired of the standard; they wanted different. In fact, they wanted the complete opposite of ordinary. Let that be a lesson to those ‘boring’ brands who continue to play it safe.

Dan Vivian - Business Development & Marketing Director