I don’t know about you, but I may have an unhealthy addiction to the news.
There’s so much news. It’s become a drug… available on every corner at any hour. And it’s calling my name.
Shows, articles, blogs, forums, tweets and podcasts feed me politics, technology, sports, science, business and entertainment 24/7. All the very latest about how we live, die, laugh, cry…how we think, what we like.
Then there’s the news about how we work.
At work, I’m a marketer (a blurry label, I know). Like anyone out there working for themselves, I’m interested in what other people are doing…what ideas are getting traction…what’s happening. I’m trying to stay ahead of the curve – or at least not slide off it completely.
But my smartphone is a plughole in a giant pool of information and misinformation.
I’ve always been curious about pop culture, consumer products and the points where they intersect. I’m especially interested in what makes things extend beyond the time and purpose they were created for, and go on to become part of the culture itself.
No matter whether I’m working, learning or being entertained, whenever I see an idea so singularly elegant that it has the potential to go beyond its boundaries, I want to know more.
What personalities, choices and epiphanies gave that idea its crucial edge? What blend of inspiration, perspiration, skill and good fortune make its realisation so sublime?
Look up opinions about music, TV, movies, games, books and art and you’ll find whole communities dedicated to celebrating and debating their genius – dissecting the essence of their cult appeal.
But go looking for opinions about regular products and the information pool is pretty shallow. It’s just not popular to celebrate consumer products as if they were art or celebrities. Brands are more boring than people.
So if consumers aren’t inclined to get deep about products, surely marketers do it ad nauseam?
Not so much, it turns out. Or at least, not in public.
In the place of analysis and discourse about market success, marketing conversations are all about the news – new products, new technologies, new books, new paradigms. In the quest to be noticed and respected, marketers are racing to be the best at creating and sharing news.
For sure, we live in exciting times. Technology is fusing capital and creativity and producing new utility at a breathtaking pace.
But can it really be that what I need to know to be better at my job happened this week? Or is exclusively driven by technology and new business thinking?
What about ‘old’ business thinking that was simply brilliantly executed?
Converse introduced the legendary Chuck Taylor All Star in 1923. Gibson’s generation-defining Les Paul dates back to 1952. Lego launched its charming Minifig figurine in 1978.
All of these timeless products still dominate their respective markets and are considered icons – brands in their own right. They are brilliant, singular ideas that stuck: spawning products that become ubiquitous, celebrated and inimitable.
What made these products so persuasive and dominant? What are the ingredients of iconic? What behaviours and tactics help keep them strong? Above all, what can I learn from them and emulate?
More than news, what I really want is knowledge. As a marketer, I’m going to keep in touch with new developments. News helps me understand the boundaries of what’s possible in ways that my imagination can’t.
But for knowledge, I’m going to look backwards and take things slow.
My name is Gavin and I’m a newsaholic.