Tag Archives: black diamond

Q&A Tuesday: What is liberal? What is cool?

Occasionally my readers write in with some seriously existential questions that make me look long and hard at myself in the mirror that is my blog. Such an exchange occurred today when I received an email from Jabu, who wanted to know what the trendwatching company I used to work for measured its scouts against in order for them to be “cool enough”. The following exchange ensued, and I feel its educational worth transcends my inbox:


On 9/16/08 11:46 AM, “Jabulani” wrote:

Hey, how’s it going Alexandra? I trust life is going alright that side of the world and stuff. Just a quick question I wanted to ask you… What was the mechanism and criteria you used when recruiting trendscouts? I mean, how did you decide who was cooler then whom?


From: Alex [mybrandedlife@gmail.com]
Sent: 16 September 2008 12:08 PM
To: Jabulani
Subject: Re: Heita hola

Because it’s market research, it’s a question of covering all demographic / genre bases. Often we’d meet amazing people but we’d already know similar people, and it would be a question of – we have so MANY young interesting black peeps who dig Manga from Langa, we need more Black peeps who drink whisky from Soweto – or – we have tons of Tiger Tiger chicks and we need more Melrose Arch preppies. That’s all. Eventually everyone gets their turn, you know? Just a question of timing and keeping a fairly balanced spread of different types of young people from around the country.

When it comes to the individual, ‘cool’ was largely determined by who our clients are at the time, and whether that person would feed in relevant info on a regular proactive schedule.

Lastly, apart from the word ‘liberal’, ‘cool’ is the most misunderstood and misused descriptor out there – ESPECIALLY by trendwatching companies and their clients.
What they mean is something more like ‘early adopters’.
There is no such thing as ‘cool’, nor criteria for such.
‘Cool’ kids look the same in every part of the world.

It’s just another life phase, to be remembered by most as ‘That time I convinced myself that skinny jeans are actually “cool”. Shame.’

Hope it answers your question,

A

does it really exist? Trick question. One mans Converse is another mans Buffalos.

Cool: does it really exist? Trick question. One man's Converse is another man's Buffalos.

On 9/16/08 12:47 PM, “Jabulani” wrote:

Thanks, that helps quite a bit.

So… how is the word “liberal” misunderstood and misused? What is a liberal exactly? Would you consider yourself a liberal? Am I a liberal – or am I counter-revolutionary?


From: Alex [mybrandedlife@gmail.com]
Sent: 16 September 2008 12:08 PM
To: Jabulani
Subject: Re: Heita hola


Ways people misinterpret and misuse the word ‘liberal’:

1. Describe yourself as having a ‘liberal nature’ when the truth is that you just have a drinking problem
2. Put your ‘liberal nature’ down to your parents being ‘liberals’, who were really only people with drinking problems
3. Describe yourself as a ‘liberal’ to excuse your sexually promiscuous behaviour with most of your friends (and pretty much anyone, since you have a drinking problem)
4. Describing your political point of view as being ‘liberal’ because you believe in equality (reality check: being liberal means believing in communism, in not having to work for what you get, in endless government handouts and in being okay with other people taking your stuff).

If I were to pick a side I’d probably say that I am conservative, that I am educated and believe in educated leaders, that I value intellect over popularity, that I will support someone DOING good as opposed to someone who’s DONE good, that I will fucking kill you if you touch my Merc, that if you want a Merc, you should work as hard as me to get it and not expect it to fall into your lap. Okay, I drive a Yaris, but it will be a Merc one day, since I believe in work. Do you think it’s some sort of a coincidence that Merc rhymes with work?

You, however, strike me as being a bit of a fence-sitter, which is probably a smart place for a young emerging market Dark Carbon Allotrope (c) (BlAcK DiAmOnD) like yourself.
Aligning your personal brand with the ANC at this point isn’t very sexy, since they keep kicking each other in the bum like battery chickens.
You could be described as a “Revolutionary Counter”, because it’s a smart twist on your question without being too blatant a dodge of the issue.

I hope this answers your question, young D.C.A.

P.S. I’m blogging this, FYI

P.P.S. Props for the K.D. reference, though I know you think I missed it. Peace.

******************************************************************************

This is all very deep for a Tuesday.

What you find when you dig deep. Stay shallow, stay cool.

What you find when you dig deep. Stay shallow, stay cool.

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store cards: who’s getting it right

every time i open my wallet i get this sick feeling, probably not uncommon to many people since opening your wallet is synonymous with dishing out hard earned cash, but the reason for my mounting nausea is the fact that i have, oh, 6 billion store cards confronting me every time i want to do something simple, like get change for a card guard or pull out that worn fortune cookie with the lotto numbers on it.
the nausea reached fever pitch over the holidays, when i was doing a large amount of opening my wallet, and something inside me snapped. as a kind of consumer extraordinaire (truly, i sign up for everything i lay my eyes on partly because it’s my job and party because i’m curious that these brands may have something meaningful to offer me) i am exposed to vast amounts of brand propaganda, most of which i can say (with good authority) is a load of gunk. and i just kind of had enough.

even though there are benefits to buying with a store / loyalty card over cash, i can’t help but feel i’m being duped every single time, especially since i’m not really into buying when i can’t afford stuff (one of the perks of not being a ‘Black Diamond’, whatever that is anyway), which is precisely what a store card is designed to do. so i emptied my wallet onto the kitchen counter and stared at my plastic fairweather friends for a good long time before i decided to act on Oprah’s advice and ‘cut the bad people out of my life’.

as more and more marketers realise that niching is the way to go in terms of communication, store cards are one area where i just don’t think it works, because you take for granted the fact that the consumer actually wants to remember what benefit you’re delivering. while staring at the cards i’d accumulated, i couldn’t think of a single benefit meaningful enough to stop me cutting up the cards.

discount movies? i don’t watch enough movies at the cinema to care. my movies come to me through the internet, through friends, through registered mail from the UK since i can’t be bothered to wait a whole year to watch what i want to watch.

the ability to return goods for cash? okay this one works. the woolworths card made it out whole.

points that contribute to flights? um, no thanks. i don’t desperately need to fly anywhere. plus you have to use this particular card as your everyday card in order for this to truly pay off. plus there’s a limit to how many points you can earn anyway, so that card got the chop.

being able to buy fast moving consumer goods (ie. crap) at particular stores on credit? i already have a credit card, a bank based one, which is admin enough to manage anyway so you’ll forgive me for seeing superfluous credit the same way i see men who flirt with you while you’re in a relationship, ie. it’s fun but essentially useless and a waste of time. oooh, 6 months interest free? okay, that’s a bonus. but again, if it’s taking me 6 months to pay off any kind of credit i’d say it’s time to think about your life, because unless you’re paying off some kind of emergency, you’re probably living in denial.

my exclusive books fanatics card made it through, because i buy on average 6 books a month and always get some sort of decent return. my vide e loyalty card got scrapped though, since i spend enough money there to have shares in the company and in my entire 2 years of having the card i have quite possibly only ever received one free coffee. and as for my levi’s card…i’ve just got some old post and it seems the card scheme closed in September 07. guess it didn’t really take off.

anyway, after having made a flower sculpture out of all the excess cards, i strolled into kenilworth medi clinic for a routine doctor’s appointment and saw this:

edcongroupcards

paying your medical bills with a shoe store card? talk about an incentive. big up to Edcon, who realise that if there’s one thing their consumers are likely to need on credit it’s medicine, since 2 out of every 3 people in this country is HIV positive.