The other day I stumbled across this Microsoft IE9 campaign, another curious example of reverse psychology marketing. Which got me to thinking about how so many brands crave our love. They earnestly seek to win the masses over with memorable campaigns, helpful apps and flashy giveaways. While the coddling is nice, the approaches can naturally become predictable and undifferentiated. So it’s refreshing that Microsoft is focusing energy on embracing hatred instead. If people actively exert the energy to hate you, can’t that only mean there is the potential for love?
Louie C.K. recently claimed “If somebody loved hating my show, that’d be great.” While it’s much trickier for brands to lure us into this polarizing state, here’s how recent media has perfected this art form.
Be an Oversharer
You can’t make it through episodes of Girls or Louie without shamefully averting your eyes. Why? Because they are almost too personal which makes them awkward to watch, which is also exactly what makes them so arresting. Both leads are simultaneously self-deprecating and self-entitled in a way that makes us want to detach from them while also completely relating to them. The more flawed, true and endless glimpse that brands can share into their worlds, the more personal they can also become to their audiences.
Make us Cringe
Margaret is a “thwarted masterpiece” finally released on DVD after a lengthy saga. According to one of the many torn reviews, Anna Paquin “starts off spunky and ends up so repellent as to make you loathe the sight of her. Most of all, you will dread the sound of her voice. This actually could have been the filmmaker’s intention, which is interesting but weird.” The movie brazenly spirals and abrasively crescendos just as Paquin’s voice does. It culminates in a highly watchable, extended train wreck. Similar to this, brands that are able to make us strategically cringe, have the opportunity to earn our loving hate.
Have a Pure Vision
Newsroom is a self righteous, bougie and swashbuckling spectacle, and you know it from the lofty opening montage. Characters constantly one-up and berate each other and the audience is a pawn that is puppeteered by melodramatic heartstrings. But the show owns it, with a gall that it should get its ass beaten for. And this only makes you hate-watch it more. Aaron Sorkin is of course the driving force behind this, and remains committed to his vision to the point of being accussed of hogging the creative process. While collaboration is key, without the proper direction it can only dilute and Frankenstein the final product making it less polarizing and powerful.
While most brands sit in the middle of the road, it is those brands on the fringes who can take a page from these productions by celebrating their polarity versus trying to fight it.
Image Credit: half-blood prince