Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Industry Note - Special How Not to Talk to Consumers Edition

Apparently Zune's message is:

"Welcome to the Social".

Notwithstanding the fact that it's maybe a bit of a ripoff (since the only person that actually says "the social" on a regular basis, apart from grungy old academics, is, it's a cool idea.

The problem is it's expressed terribly.

"The social" is a phrase I use to sum up tons of academic work on the economics, psychology, and anthropology of, well, social interaction.

It means little to consumers - esp the consumers Zune wants to reach; because those guys are already bathed in the hypersocial.

Zune (for God's sake) isn't gonna welcome them to the social - they've already been living hypersociality - 10,000 friends on Myspace, 50-60 texts a day, Habbo, Neopets, Stardoll,, etc, etc, etc - for years.

So this positioning is, I think, more of the same - yesterday's arrogance of money and market power.

Unfortunately, today, these kinds of positions today inevitably signal to consumers what not to buy - because, in fact, they're a pretty accurate signal just how out of touch the guys behind the product (and the marketing) really are with connected consumption, etc, etc.

NB - It might seem, esp to the geek kru,like I'm nitpicking, but this kind of stuff makes the difference between branding that talks to consumers, and branding that just gets tuned out.

-- umair // 12:04 PM // 4 comments


or "the social" as short for "social club" a reasonably broadly used term, I thought

see, The Heavenly Social.

...or maybe not
// Anonymous Anonymous // 12:56 PM

Good one Umair. Really this kind of communication is more for the old fogeys at MS to communicate to the other old fogeys at other companies trying to show off that they "get it." What's funny is that MS is too wrapped up in themselves to even realize this.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 10:27 PM

There's some great examples of terrible "we're down with the kids" marketing out there - one of my favorites is this from

"Once upon a time in a land by San Francisco Bay, a small group of people with very different backgrounds decided to come together and build The site’s official launch date was October 23, 2004, and the team was immediately greeted with a surge of members. Happily, the storm never stopped.

We’re still a relatively young company, so it makes sense that we’re always full of big ideas. We’re planning and implementing new features all the time. We’re hardworking, beer-chugging, brainstorming… anyway, Mary Poppins aint got nothin’ on me.

A humongous thanks from the team goes out to you, the members who make yourselves at home here and give the site soul. We pledge to continue working toward the goal of providing a positive, life-changing experience for you here, on YOU, after all, do bring out the best in me.


Nice try guys.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 10:43 PM

The truly amusing part of this name, as a British friend pointed out to me, is that the British refer to "the social" the same way we North Americans refer to "welfare"!

Sounds like the Nova all over again...
// Blogger Margaret Gold // 4:15 PM

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