How much do you know about penguins? Not the hockey-playing kind. The ones in Antartica. I know this sounds weird, but you can learn a lot about marketing from penguins. Here’s what I mean…
Penguins get hungry. A lot, actually. And they eat fish. So they roam around until they come to a hole in the ice. Now they hope there are some fish hanging around that hole. But they also know there are predators that do, as well – sea lions and seals that would love to have penguins over for dinner, if you know what I mean. They have to eat. But they don’t want to get eaten. The penguins crowd around the hole in the ice, hungry, but scared to jump in. As more and more penguins crowd around the hole, eventually, one of them gets pushed in. All the other penguins then wait and see if the “volunteer” survives. If he’s eaten, they go look for other places to feed. If he survives and finds fish, they all jump in. Not long after that, the fish are gone, either eaten or escaped. The penguins get out of the water, and back onto the ice, beginning their search again. So how does this relate to marketing?
Let’s look at advertising. Or television production. Or social media. A company comes up with an idea, maybe it’s using humor in an ad, or a show about a hospital, or a proclamation on how woke they are. Doesn’t mater. They have some success with this plan. Then all their competitors jump in, feet first, to do the same thing. Soon, the novelty has worn off, and the idea is ‘over-fished.’ Everybody abandons the idea and searches for greener pastures. Rinse. Palaver. Repeat.
Ever wonder why you get one TV drama about medicine, then next season there are a half-dozen hospital shows? Or why one insurance company airs humor ads, and then all the competitors jump on that same bandwagon? Or how so many companies are vying for the badge of ‘honor’ to be the woke-est in the land? Well, wonder no more. They’re behaving like penguins. Penguins have brains the size of walnuts. Marketing folk that wait for someone to innovate, then jump on their bandwagons are similarly endowed in the cranium department.
Today, Verizon announced its selling its media divisions off to another company. AOL and Yahoo! are going to another owner, and Verizon is losing big bucks on the deal, selling these properties off for pennies on the dollar. Ouch. You see, they wanted to compete with AT&T, Comcast/Universal, and Google for the almighty advertising dollar. Didn’t work. AT&T has similarly struggled with it’s satellite service.
Here’s my question: wouldn’t it be better to be an original than a copy? Don’t companies that make bold moves succeed far better than those who simply can’t do anything but wait for others to innovate and then create a poor copy of the other’s work?
Of course, there’s one instance where I’d approve of copying. I’d like to see a major corporation proclaim, loud and proud, that they sell whatever they sell, and they plan to keep out of politics and wokeness. They’d get some blowback from the Woke Mob, but that would only last for the duration of their attention span – a week or two at most. And then they’d be free from the shackles of oppressive woke theology. Even better, maybe other companies would see that and emulate them – then we could be rid of these politically-correct, butt-hurt, woke idiots, once and for all.