Only The Good Guys Can Use My Product, Thanks!

Image credit: Vanity Fair

Recently, as I was driving home through the glorious rush hour traffic near our Boston office, I tried to calm myself by listening to the news on the radio. I know, the news is hardly a calming influence, but an interesting story caught my ear.

According to Rian Johnson, director of the Academy Award-nominated movie Knives Out, he was not allowed to use Apple products in the movie unless they were used by “good guy” characters and not any “bad guy” characters. I listened in rapt attention — easy enough to do as a hands-free activity, especially considering I was not really moving in traffic anyway.

This instance of product and brand control has two implications. 

One is that, like any good brand, Apple wants its products displayed in the best possible light. That’s by design — not coincidence. It means that any phones or computers used in the movie or television show could be iPhones or Macs only when in the hands of the good guys, the winning side, the innocent. Therefore the bad guys, the losing side, and guilty parties have to use something else — such as Android phones or PCs. Brilliant marketing. How convenient for Apple that its competitors are associated with negative aspects and characters! 

The second implication is, now that you know the secret, it is a lot easier to identify the possible culprit in the next suspenseful movie or program you are watching by simply looking to see who is using an Apple device. Sorry if this is a spoiler — but maybe you can make some money off your friends by betting on the outcome!

This got me thinking about how product information relates to, and supports, your brand strategy and brand values. We don’t all have the brand power of Apple — but there are things we can do to support what we believe is important.

We talk a lot on this blog about how high-quality information is important for establishing your credibility with customers, enhancing confidence, and encouraging better conversion rates and reduced returns. There is more and more evidence of these benefits and I think the question of whether consistent, high-quality product information is important is no longer in dispute.

What can we learn from the concept of associating your brand with only positive characters? 

Perhaps the old adage of “any publicity is good publicity” no longer applies. We’ve seen how brands want to have more control over the experience they deliver – specifically, the recent announcement from Nike, who decided to stop selling on Amazon, is one result of trying to control the experience for customers. In an unreleased survey we recently co-sponsored with Accenture, we found that consumers, especially digital natives, see brand values and the product experience as a key factor in a purchasing decision — 32% said they would be willing to pay more for an outstanding experience, and 38% said they would be willing to pay more for a brand that conveys the values they believe in. (Watch our blog for more information from this survey soon).

Our survey supports the trend of brands increasingly looking to promote their brand values through product information. Brands and sellers are using sustainable and eco-friendly aspects of their products as a way to differentiate their offering and appeal to customers who actively seek out products with these attributes. We touched on the concept in a January 29, 2020 webcast with Joe Pine, author of The Experience Economy (look for it in our events archive on this page). Sellers are even including the ability to filter products on their eCommerce sites based on which ones are sustainably sourced, include or exclude certain ingredients, and so forth. 

So, while you may not have the brand power or legal resources to demand and actively monitor how your products are depicted by Hollywood, there are steps you can take to better control your brand strategy and values on the platforms you can control. By managing and presenting relevant product information, telling your brand story, and delivering a compelling product experience, you can speak directly to your customers, appeal to your shared values – and maybe even generate more revenue. 

Interested in what product experience management is all about? Download our free eBook PXM for Dummies to learn more.

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