The Art Of Distraction

You would have been forgiven for thinking the last week was a bad one for Donald Trump – Michael Cohen testimony; the failed deal in Vietnam with Kim Jong Un.  But his two hour speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference showed the art of distraction rather than the deal.  Off script, soundbites for weeks, hugging the U.S. flag, it quickly changed the conversation from nuclear weapons to … who knows.  But from a brand perspective, it was measured, consistent and played to the strengths.  His brand might not be worth the self-purported $4billion but it does exist.

In some ways, it’s reminiscent of 2004 when Jose Mourinho started his press conference and first tenure at Chelsea with the lines “I’m the European Champion.  I think I am a special one”.  What Jose was able to do that season was distract the media, the spotlight from his players so they could get on with the task at hand, and win the Premier League.

At The Interpreters, we’ve constantly heard over the last two years the rise and need for brands to deliver a transparent and personalised relationship but are we actually just suckers for distraction, and not actually bothered by looking the other way.

Take the fashion industry – terms such as ‘sustainability’ and ‘ethically sourced’ are registering in the vocabulary but do we dig deep into how brands manage this process from the entire supply chain?  And are the brands paying lip service when they choose what to share with us when it comes to their workforce, factories and human rights practices?

Look at the uproar when plastic bags were eliminated after what can only be described as fair warning.  We can feel good about getting rid of single use plastic bags but demand supermarkets provide the 15 cent bags for free and turn a blind eye to the plastic bags used for fruit and vegetable, bin liners, etc.  And we can’t forget that according to the Queensland University of Technology, supermarkets stand to make $71 million in gross profit from the bag switch.

We talk about consumers being empowered with more information than ever before, which leads to an increase in their expectations but we know Trump lies, that Jose couldn’t shield the team forever, that ethically sourced is up for individual interpretation and that sometimes you forget your bag for life – and we seem fine with it.  Maybe the distractions we notice or ignore from people and brands are simply extensions of the distracting world that we live in – and we like it.

Perhaps transparency needs to be simple as the more complex, the more distracting it becomes and we fall into old habits.  It reminds me of the Avis campaign when they admitted they were number 2 in the car rental market and told people, they would try harder.  Embracing, not trying to distract, from their position and giving the simple solution.  And launched in the 1960’s where we weren’t in a position to Google market shares, even though today, we still wouldn’t bother.  They told us they were trying and it was up to us whether to believe – which we did as their market share increased from 11% to 34% in 4 years.

I’m distracted.  I’m writing this blog while watching TV, checking emails on my phone despite mouse movement away from reading email on my Mac, deciding whether or not to iron my ethically sourced shirts tonight or leave it until tomorrow morning (a decision I’ve live to regret but hey, there’s too much going on).


By Paul Dixon

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