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Essays at the intersection of marketing and life.

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8th
September
2017

Poo

I have long been critical of brands that slyly betray their owners. The splendid ‘poo girl’ story emanating from Bristol and spreading its delicate aromas all over the globe gives me opportunity to moan once more.

Let me recount the bare bones of the alarming little story, lest you’ve been reading Jane Austen, or Fordyce’s Sermons, and missed out.

Two students on a Tinder date. All going well. Back to his place for post-pizza beers and movie. She uses the bathroom. Toilet fails to flush properly. Panicked, she decides to reach into the bowl and toss her business out the window. Unknown to her, the window has a twilight zone empty space between it and an outer window. Poo gets stuck between the two. Girl reaches up and over to retrieve said poo, lodged deep in the ravine between two panes. Girl gets stuck. Fire brigade called. Her Tinder date, in an effort to recoup costs of broken window, launches a refinancing plea on gofundme. Enter the BBC. ‘Poo girl’ is plastered all over the world’s media, spreading malodorous mirth as she travels.

It’s time to talk about toilets that don’t flush. I would like to name and shame the brands, but my research is incomplete

There’s nothing worse. Truly. A toilet design has one principal job to do. And yes, it’s a big job. Unsuspecting home owners are tricked into purchasing poorly designed (yet attractive) toilets, or toilets poorly adapted to the flow of water available in their houses.

The result? Well, let’s say it ain’t pretty. I suspect many of us have moonlighted as ‘poo girl’, though in fairness her imaginative course of action may have eluded us.

But there is a litany of brands and categories that betray well beyond the realm of Mr. Crapper

Let me take the posh slacks I’m wearing to a wedding this weekend. They are made of some kind of light gabardine, and are of light colour. Every time I wash my hands, the tiniest water splash is magnified by them, making me look like a 4 year old grappling with the mechanics of urination.

But wait, there’s more.

I recently wanted to lodge a complaint with a cake shop and found I could only communicate with them through Facebook. I wanted to direct message, not broadcast. Without my knowing it, 500 of my friends got to read my complaint and weigh in with their opinions. Facebook is founded on the necessity to trick us into over-sharing. The experience made me want to open a bathroom window and throw a missile in the direction of Silicon Valley. I resisted.

The Social Network has more direct issues as I write. What are the consequences when a brand betrays its own nation? Zuck and his buddies have admitted to taking $100,000 in advertising fees from a Russian ‘troll farm’, placing media in the US specifically designed to undermine citizens’ belief in the democratic process. That stinks, no?

Destroying the fabric of your nation is not great news from a brand. But things get personal when your career is at stake.

On two occasions recently I have had clients interested in sprucing up their LinkedIn profile and LinkedIn recommendations in advance of a career move. But, wait up! Unless you carefully manage your settings, everyone, including your current employer, has their attention drawn to the changes to your profile. The inference is clear. LinkedIn, the brand committed to building people’s networks and careers, contrives to undermine both in pursuit of its own ends.

It is an axiom of brand building that we consider ‘what’s in it for the consumer?’. We often forget that our response to this can be dulled by the short-term ambitions of the business.

Of course caveat emptor (or, buyer beware) has a role to play in negotiating the gap. Perhaps, on reflection, my trouser brand should be found innocent. Perhaps the simpler explanation is that I willfully chose poorly and have myself to blame.

But what of those dastardly non-flushing toilets, which can screw up a girl’s Tinder date and make her a global sensation for all the wrong reasons? Curse them all, I say. Curse all those loser loos. Because they’re shite.

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