November 8th, 2013
Live from New York – it’s brand self-awareness!
With musical guest, Chumbawamba! And starring…. diversity issues!
38 seasons. 137 cast members (including 1 Iron Man). And umm…only 3 African-American women. Yep, Saturday Night Live is under attack for its lack of African-American female cast members. And they would’ve gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for that pesky Kenan Thompson. So how did SNL handle this giant hole in their casting?
a) They made a bad movie out of it starring Chris Kattan. (Nope.)
b) They introduced a hot, new catchphrase. (Not!)
c) They honestly addressed it in a humorous way during an opening sketch that ended with an awkward cameo by Reverend Al Sharpton. (Congratulations! You win a copy of Coneheads on Blu-ray.)
By calling upon their long history of self-deprecation, SNL let viewers know that it was listening – and aware. And there’s an important lesson for brands and marketers everywhere. Every good brand knows that being aware of its flaws is just as important as knowing its strengths. And having the gumption to own up to those flaws can actually put a brand in a position of power.
If you don’t believe me, ask Domino’s. In 2009, the chain publicly admitted their pizza was subpar (sub-subpar?), introduced a new recipe, and in three years went from closing stores to reaching a milestone 10,000. Need more convincing? How about Gap? Or the Cleveland Browns? (Hello, third quarterback of the season.) Okay, not a good example, but at least they’re listening…sort of.
So, put away your rose-colored glasses, because no brand is perfect. Not even one of the most influential and successful brands of the past 38 years. (Two words: Victoria Jackson.)