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Values Vision & Voice

      Brooklyn Beckham, the 16-year-old son of famous parents, has been asked by Burberry to take photographs to market its new fragrance.  Photographers are up in arms about this.  They say it further diminishes the craft of photography, and is disrespectful to professional photographers who have honed their creative skills over many years, decades even. How could a 16-year-old possibly be competent enough? “Sheer nepotism” is how one photographer described it.  Well, let’s ignore, for instance, that  Joey L  was shooting high-end commissions when he was a teenager. Let’s, instead, pretend teenagers can’t take a photograph. Let’s also assume that Brooklyn Beckham doesn’t know which end of a camera to look through—though nobody has proved this, I think. Even then, focusing on his alleged lack of experience completely misses the point.  I don’t think this is purely a photography assignment.  It’s something bigger.  It’s a   marketing   assignment.   Brooklyn Beckham has 5.9 million followers on Instagram . Very likely, the majority of them are the audience Burberry wants to reach. On top of which, the publicity surrounding his appointment as the photographer for their next campaign has been significant and widespread—be it positive, negative or neutral. Beckham is, to use the parlance, box office. He brings something to the table that most photographers can’t. Audience and exposure (no pun intended). In fact, I can think of only one other photographer whose appointment gets coverage, albeit much less hysterical: Annie Leibovitz.  It all boils down to story.  Brooklyn Beckham’s story is potent. It travels and it has reach. It’s nonsense to complain about his lack of experience as a photographer or be snarky about how he won the job. Being a competent photographer doesn’t mean you are entitled to an assignment over someone who has less experience. Being the right fit for the entire marketing campaign is. For this campaign, Burberry has chosen the photographer whom it feels is best suited to its marketing objective.  In doing so, Burberry isn’t intentionally causing offence to photographers. Photographers are seeking and taking offence. Two different things altogether.  Instead, I think photographers should be more proactive in building their own story. If the story they could build with Burberry were stronger than the one Brooklyn Beckham can, they’d get the job, not him. Fact of the matter is, they can’t offer Burberry a better story.  It’s not like they didn’t have time to build their story. Don’t forget that many photographers are much older than Brooklyn Beckham. It’s their chief argument for being better candidates, after all. They have lived longer and have more experience, remember? Well, that knife cuts both ways. It also means they have had oodles more time to build their story than he has. But they didn’t build a stronger story, did they?  You might argue that Beckham is trading off the time his famous parents spent building their respective stories. Fine. That still doesn’t take away from the fact that most photographers didn’t create a compelling story about themselves when they could have. Brand Beckham is 20 years old or so. What have these photographers been doing for the past 20 years to build their own story to make themselves irresistible to Burberry? I’m going to be very harsh here. They didn’t even build a story about their own photographic competency that was compelling enough for Burberry to opt for them over a 16-year-old.  So, what can marketeers learn from this?  Well, for one, hiring celebrity offspring to do your photo shoot will give you tons of publicity.  Second, and herein lies the point of this piece, if your story is more compelling for your target audience than your competitor’s, you win.  So, ask yourself: What you are doing to build your story?    —Roger—

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Brooklyn Beckham, the 16-year-old son of famous parents, has been asked by Burberry to take photographs to market its new fragrance. Photographers are up in arms about this. They say it further diminishes the craft of photography, and is disrespectful to professional photographers who have honed their creative skills over many years, decades even. How could a 16-year-old possibly be competent enough? “Sheer nepotism” is how one photographer described it.

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        </iframe>" data-provider-name="YouTube"         Why is most marketing designed to make a company NOT stand out in any meaningful way?  I mean, do you ever feel that marketing is stuck in some kind of déjà vu loop? A loop in which nothing rises above the rest, and everyone's repeatedly using the same buzzwords and gimmicks to sell the same thing?  Brands just merge into one another. You can't tell their products apart anymore, and the marketing is all rotten and dull and irrelevant. In the end, you just tune out, fast forward or find another screen to look at. Does that sound familiar?  I think a big part of the problem is that most businesses are afraid—of themselves.  They're afraid because they don't know who they are.  They're afraid because they don't like who they are.  They're afraid because, if the truth got out, their customers wouldn't like who they are.  They're afraid because they'd much rather be like one of their competitors.  So, instead of showing themselves, they hide. Mostly, they hide behind meaningless buzzwords and clichés. The same ones everyone else is hiding behind. And they're happy—as long as they don't have to show any of their own personality or character or values. As long as they don't have to do anything truly original themselves.  You end up with a dizzying din of marketing that, despite all the individual voices, seems like a single voice saying exactly the same thing, over and over again.  That makes it very hard for someone to pick you out and form a bond with you. They can't really hear you or see you.  So, just because another company is successful with its messaging or spec sheet or activities (or at appear to be, at least), being a copycat isn't a good idea.  Instead, be you.    —Roger—     PS—If you'd like to know when we have new videos available, sign up for our newsletter and we'll send them straight to your inbox.

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Why is most marketing designed to make a company NOT stand out in any meaningful way?

I mean, do you ever feel that marketing is stuck in some kind of déjà vu loop? A loop in which nothing rises above the rest, and everyone's using the same buzzwords and gimmicks to sell the same thing?

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