Brands I want to hate but cannot

MaryLou Costa is a key member of the Marketing Week features team and her blog brings her unique Australian perspective to brands. She also oversees the Market Research Focus weekly bulletin.

Hate’s a strong word isn’t it? That’s why when I saw stories in the news this week that made me think I hated certain brands for behaving the way they do, I stopped short of actually crushing the drink in my hand with a look of disgust like the lovable Darla in the film The Little Rascals.

Their actions might be rant-worthy, but only for a few minutes, before you think – hang on. I can’t actually bring myself to hate this brand.

Like Apple. Apple’s smug arrogance makes me want to cross the road on Regent Street so I don’t even have to look into its store window. The way it purposely limits distribution so products artificially sell out. The way it only speaks to the media if your name is Stephen Fry and you’re writing for Time magazine.

And this week, the way it has decided to sue Samsung (and is already suing HTC and Nokia) for allegedly infringing copyright on its phone and tablet device designs. In doing this it has shouted from its sleek pedestal, “Your brand is much too inferior to think of touchscreen technology!” It’s a declaration of believing it has the right to own this market, but it’s like Henry Ford suing Kiichiro Toyoda for copying the technology to mass produce cars. It’s an industry. It’s competitive. Move on.

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Such conceit might inspire me to write a sharp email to Steve Jobs – on my iPad. My lovely iPad that has me in browsing heaven before my second rate laptop has even asked for my password. The amazing device on which Google maps runs so smoothly, unlike my (non-Apple) mobile phone which freaks out the minute you try to zoom in. My household’s second internet browsing device which means my boyfriend and I no longer argue over whether checking football scores trumps making an order on Asos.

See – like a soothing balm, thinking of how Apple has made my life better means I can never really hate it, no matter how many ridiculous law suits it embarks on.

Now Ryanair really gets me going. I hate almost everything about travelling with this brand. The attendants who trawl up and down the aisles selling lottery tickets and smokeless cigarettes when you are trying to sleep. The advertising jingles it broadcasts, again when you are trying to sleep. The offensively garish décor of its planes. The inane trumpeting sound effect that blares over the loudspeaker when a flight lands on time.

And now it has announced it wants to charge £10 for selected seating, which takes all the fun out of the mad rush to board. Flying Ryanair just wouldn’t be the same if you didn’t have to make a deal with your friends that first to get there saves you all a seat. Is there anything this brand is not embarrassed to charge for?

But Ryanair was the only airline that would fly me to the lovely Italian city of Parma when I visited in January, for less than £50 return. BA would have had me travelling for an entire day, changing in Milan, for three times the price. The flight wasn’t even at an ungodly hour, nor was the airport miles away from the city centre. My friend and I even found the trumpeting sound effect pleasantly amusing. It was hard to admit, but Ryanair actually made us happy.

Brands you love to hate, like Apple and Ryanair, always end up winning the psychological battle.

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