Madonna, Snapchat and the Art of Discovery

This is probably more of a thought than a post but two things struck me over Madonna’s release of her latest video on Snapchat:

    1. Good for her. The stigma of Snapchat being an app of unsavory content and mischief is old and tiresome. They have a userbase that exceeds 100 million with 1 in 5 U.S. social media users using it and 71% of all users being under the age of 25.
    1. Pioneering the Discover feature on Snapchat means some growing pains but could ultimately pay off. The assumption is Madonna released the video to stay relevant with Snapchat’s demographic. I think the strategy was more complex than that.

According to  a Consumer Trends survey by the Recording Industry Association of America, the 45+ age group is actually the largest music buying demographic. Madonna using the medium means reaching a new audience of 20 somethings while bringing a new demographic to Snapchat with Gen X. If she extends her relationship with the social network, using features such as My Story, Madonna could give unprecedented real-time access into her life, her tour, and her music all the while keeping this new demographic of Snapchat users engaged as she reintroduces herself and her relevance to new fans.

So when you combine those two stats, you kind of get tweets like this:

The learning curve for Snapchat isn’t easy, however, the value proposition delivered in the case of a brand (In this instance Madonna) releasing exclusive content through Discovery is compelling. Discovery’s UX is very simple and straight forward, and the experience feels both real-time and exclusive. PSFK has a great overview of the feature that I recommend checking out.

Gary Vaynerrchuck made the comment on a LinkedIn post that Snapchat is a media company now. I don’t think they’ve ever pretended to be anything other than that however. They just evolved. People are media just as media is media. On a platform that can scale content from 1 to 1 to 1 to many, Snapchat is proving that evolution doesn’t need to take place over a millennium.

Unapologism and the New Brand World

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“iPhone 5C is beautifully, unapologetically plastic. Multiple parts have been reduced to a single polycarbonate component whose service is continuous and seamless.” – Jony Ivey, Apple

I’ve been obsessing over that quote since it entered into mainstream discussions amongst marketers, PR practitioners and consumers alike. Weeks later, during the debates between analysts as to whether the 5C is a failure (It’s far from being a flop.), a sliver of insight seems to have been lost on everyone: Apple’s ushering in what I’m deeming “The Age of Unapologism”.

Since Jony Ivey’s famous on-camera proclamation that plastic is sexy, there’s been a subtle paradigm shift in how brands are beginning to approach the positioning of their products to the public. After years of agency strategists encouraging brands to “co-create products with your greatest advocates” it seems as though brands are taking their power back without remorse. In a sense, I’ve relieved.

Like Social Media, This is Nothing New

Apple’s decision to take a stand with the 5C harkens back to marketing in the 90’s where brands would offer a market-led, superior value position to their customers. It’s hard to believe but one of the prime pillars of brand-to-consumer communication 20 years ago centered around quality, and with good reason. Quality is a “…concept laden with emotion, relating strongly to personal feelings of success, failure, self-esteem and meeting others expectations.”

When focusing on improving quality, such as in Ivey’s description of the 5C, it stimulates powerful positive feelings when it is associated with change, innovation, new possibilities, opportunity and break-through.

Admittedly, not every brand is Apple. But brands that have shied away in recent years from the very attributes they’ve built their reputations on, are hitting the reset button and embracing what they’re known best for.

Social Media forced brands to find their conscience. Unapologism will force brands to find their hearts.