The Dark Matter

The Dark Matter

Branding & PR

Anil Kumar

Anil Kumar

351 week ago — 4 min read

Recently browsing the business-technology articles section got me wondering why most of the articles started with 7 trends, 9 predictions, 12 hacks etc. Why the obsession with quick lessons or shortcut takeaways that help one not repeat the same mistakes done by another. Got me thinking if there can be quick and dirty marketing hacks aka growth hacks to circumvent the whole learning curve and invaluable experience that one needs to get by making mistakes and experimenting. It is no surprise that nothing sticks in your mind like a controversial taboo advert that outrages social sentiment in some way. One of the hacks surprisingly was also inline with the old adage, ‘There is no such thing as bad publicity’ and before I proceed any further, let me caution an oft quoted disclaimer — Do not try this without expert supervision. Some of these may not work as depicted.  


I bet you’ve heard of the famed talk on ‘The 4 horsemen’ by Scott Galloway where the presenter shows brands like Apple that are considered to be ‘sexy’ get a cult following more than most ‘functional’ ones. 


It is also well known that the cult following Heath Ledger’s depiction of The Joker got in the movie,The Dark Knight, was definitely more than what the hero character Batman did. Maybe being the not-so-nice guy pays as long as you are fashionably whacky and cool?


Statistics also show that sales of books by new/emerging authors rose 45% on negative reviews than regular run-of-the-mill positive ones. It is also widely known that car companies routinely using recalls does more for the brand in building loyalty than any negative brand image.The entertainment industry is perhaps the oldest dog knowing this trick. Movie producing companies use controversies in media to get more eyeballs and ultimately viewers to their shows like creating a buzz around a supposed relationship between the lead stars to promote the movie. We have seen enough of this in India too. So does all this mean ‘All’s fair in love and war’ when it comes to marketing?


Looking at some of the new age examples, Uber seems to the most celebrated example which courts controversies in whichever market it enters and actually revels in negative publicity to gain market traction. Market disruptors need to ruffle feathers of established practices by incumbent players and there probably needs to be a shock and awe treatment to get the market to respond in a certain way. That said, controversies need to be handled carefully as this is a great opportunity to engage with the public at large and establish some brand tenets which otherwise might get eroded in the flood of controversy.  There is a thin line between courting disaster and coming out with flying colours.


In the online world of marketing we see everything from cherry blossoming, link farming to paid reviews. Seth Godin, one of the leading marketing gurus said "Content marketing is the only marketing left.” and it is pretty obvious how content is being bandied about as the next saviour in an ever crowded marketplace for eyeballs and attention. Is it really possible to generate enough content and balance it between relevance and personalisation or are we trying to boil the ocean for an already retina-fatigued consumer. The simple answer maybe that you need to whatever it takes to stand out in today’s cluttered spaces but not at the cost of staking the core values of the brand and what it promises to deliver.


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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.


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