This week I have been exposed to a fantastic array of musical culture. I went to see the David Bowie exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum, which has to be one of the best museum displays of the life and times of a living person, as well as Rihanna at Twickenham Stadium. Both were sell-outs, witnessed by thousands of people, all of whom must have left elated and satisfied, yet the lasting impact of the two could not be more different.
What struck me most about the Bowie exhibition was how it chronicled various artistic movements over the past 40 years that changed the world and how the exponents of such cultures would up sticks to be part of it – very much like the painters, sculptors and writers of the Renaissance. Compare that to the likes of Rihanna and most bands today, talented though they are. Are they a culture? Do people flock to create that culture together? And will anyone remember them in 10 years’ time?
Longevity is the theme of this week, as I also read several articles about the plight of Facebook and whether it is following in the footsteps of MySpace, Boo and others, which in their day were likewise proclaimed as the new messiah. Many of the brands that have evolved in the past 10 years have blazed across the sky only to disappear as fast as they arrived. What is the likelihood that our children will follow our lead and become their loyal customers of tomorrow in the same way our parents introduced us to Fairy Liquid, Heinz Baked Beans and even WH Smith and Thomas Cook? Are brands now as disposable as the products they develop?
Or is it our fault as marketers? Have we forgotten the principles of brand building? Has the desire for success today at any cost and let tomorrow go hang – an attitude in part due to the short life expectancy of CMOs – eroded investment in the core substance of brands that will last the test of time? And have we let the dominance of price in the ‘four Ps’ – backed by our development of such things as price comparison brands and cheap foreign copies – eroded the very essence of brand forever?