Let Your Product Do The Talking.
Tonight, because I know a friend who works for the production company, I was invited to a preview screening of a new television series, Free Agents, followed by drinks and canapes. I wasn't going to blog about it here - it takes more than canapes and good company to buy me - but the more I reflected upon it, the more I was impelled to write.
Not because I had the pleasure of watching two episodes of a remarkably tightly scripted show that was uniformly well acted and filmed and which I would recommend unreservedly, but because I had been led to believe I was going to see a comedy. That "branding" made me focus on how often I and the rest of the audience were laughing and the answer was not that often. Don't get me wrong, I laughed outwardly and inwardly on many occasions, so did the rest of the audience, but no-one did so perhaps as often as one would expect of a comedy.
There's a simple reason for that - this is so much more than just a comedy (and I write that as a huge fan of comedy). The point is that categorisation can be bad marketing and by labelling this a comedy rather than just a really intelligent piece of entertainment, a dissonance was created for me and, to a lesser extent, for some other audience members with whom I compared notes over canapes.
The message is not a new one. It's the audience/customer who decides what something means to them. Good marketing is categorically not about telling them what to think. You don't use short-hand to create your product/service, so why sell it short with lowest common denominators when you come to market it? If you believe the world is increasingly media literate, then why not treat it as such?
If you live in the UK, I urge you to watch Free Agents on Channel 4 on Friday at 10 p.m. and while I guarantee you will laugh, I'll be really interested to know if you would describe it as a comedy when you recommend it to your friends.