If you pretend to be dead for a few hours you could prevent at least one person from getting cancer. Isn’t that an offer you can’t refuse?

Put this way, Poonam Pandey’s recent faking of her death to promote cervical cancer awareness doesn’t seem outlandish.

As I say in this Hindu Business Line article, cause marketing, whether it is Peta or GreenPeace or Greta Thunberg has always relied on shock value to cut through the clutter. Causes rarely have money to spare and this approach ensures high visibility and recall. The hope is that the ends justify the means.

It doesn’t hurt the value of the cause itself. It may leave a bad aftertaste amongst her fans. And as for damaging the trust in media, well, it’s their choice to report without viewing a death certificate, but these days noone does.

As for the agency, Schbang, ah, that’s trickier. Turns out their client, MSD (trade name of Merck outside the US) sells the vaccine, and since pharma companies are not allowed to advertise in India this creates all sorts of conflicts. MSD firing Schbang does not make the problem go away – they should prove that the campaign was done entirely without their knowledge.

Are there other ways to stand out?

Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge?

Back in 2014 that raised $115 million for ALS (also know as Lou Gehrig’s disease) research!

Oh, and TIL, it’s perfectly legal to pretend to be dead. (I’m not qualified to give legal advice though so will direct you to my source Times of India article.)

Fitting in or Standing out

If you fit in, you have to spend more money to catch people’s eye. If you stand out by being different, awareness is easier. In the case of people, standing out can also lead to a lack of acceptance or bullying. For a brand, standing out will allow you to get the eyeballs you need at a lower cost. But here too, the way you stand out can have business implications – people may see you, but not like you.

Here’s to the Crazy Ones

Apple’s products have always stood out – colours, design. They also have communication that talked about being different – I loved the “here’s to the crazy ones’ ad from 1997. It has to be an amazing ad that people buy as a poster! The ‘differentiation” has to be of the kind that appeals to your audience. I see this ad and my conformist soul yearns to embrace the round peg in the square hole.

This requires a really tight grasp of the culture of your target audience.

Back to Hofstede

Continuing the conversation from my previous newsletter about fitting in vs belonging, I want to spend more time on Hofstede. In the Ken Belongs, Barbie just Fits In issue #559, I shared the Hofstede Cultural Onion. That’s a great framework to embody your brand or company culture.

This week, I want to introduce to the 6 dimensions of measuring culture – Power Distance, Individualism, Motivation towards Success, Uncertainty Avoidance, Long Term Outlook and Indulgence. These attributes vary quite significantly by country and you can visit this site to compare your favourites for free.

I put in India, Singapore, Netherlands and US – all countries I have spent time in. Netherlands scores a full 100 on individualism – something my teen instinctively grasped. She says in Amsterdam you can be yourself.

The Hofstede research is very useful to finetune which aspects of your narrative will resonate where. And of course help you if you wish to build a world where everyone can be themselves and belong, not just fit in.

Please keep reading and writing in!

I write this newsletter for free because I learn so much. Researching this issue helped me discover a new fave musician – Aliki Katriou. Like I want to learn to sing like her kind of fave 🙂 How it happened was I was researching Here’s to the Crazy Ones, and saw a story on Freddy Mercury’s teeth, and that led me to learn that false cords were the secret of his vocal range not the teeth which made him stand out, and that led me to research false cords, and that led me to this tutorial. Research so meandering and interesting that I’m in danger of missing my flight 🙂

I love all of you for keeping me company over 560 issues. Please do write in and tell me about your favourite musicians.

Happy Chinese New Year to all those who celebrate it. And welcome to the Year of the Dragon.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.