skirt

In marketing your brand, don’t be afraid of trying out new things or going against the grain. That is how you start a conversation that will last 30 years. Photo/FILE

 The world’s best commercial was only aired for a major audience once.

Thirty years later, the video recording on YouTube has more than 10 million views and counting. It’s the clip Apple used to introduce their brand to the world, which ended with the stark declaration: “And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.”

This was Apple’s introduction to their new computers during the 1984 SuperBowl.

The video depicts unhappy-looking human drones marching through a bleak environment. A 1980s-looking female athlete runs and throws a sledgehammer at a television screen.

It’s an act of rebellion that’s inspiring. Many who watched the commercial when it initially aired remember cheering at the time. No one would argue that the commercial is in a class of its own.

Fast forward 30 years later. Corporal Linda Okello was published on the Sunday Nation newspaper wearing a tight skirt while on duty at the KCB Kenya national rally championship in Kiambu.

Her bosses, schooled in the tradition of police dress code, rapped her on the knuckles for having the nerve to dress as she did. But the image caught the imagination of a largely male audience on social media and was the subject of radio breakfast talk shows the whole of last week.

Right there are some of the biggest marketing lessons your brand can learn today from advertising.

Talk to your market in their language.

There were three computer advertisements during the 1984 SuperBowl, but no one is talking about the others 30 years later. No one watching the game cared that much about the specifics of processing speed or megabytes or any other jargon.

The Apple advertisement had nothing to do with the quality of computers or their product, but it captured the audience’s attention and kept it.

Corporal Okello got plenty of admiration from Kenyans on social media and beyond. Many were willing to be arrested by the cute cop. Her skirt even energised a social media group that started a campaign dubbed “Kenyans for Linda Okello”.

Sales and marketing are particularly rife with jargon. Internally, this may not be such a problem — it’s likely your colleagues understand when you talk about ‘segmentation’, ‘positioning’ and ‘conversion rates’.

But your sector, product or service jargon used on customers can undermine your sales efforts. There’s no point trying to use long or clever words just for the sake of it.

Wrapping things up in technical language or ‘corporate speak’ effectively puts up a barrier between people — and if people don’t understand something, they won’t speak up in case they look foolish.

Be different

The most apparent fact about Apple’s 1984 commercial is that it was weird. Differentiation was a major component of Steve Job’s business philosophy; in 1987 he famously stated, “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the navy.”

Deputy inspector general of Police Grace Kaindi had accused Corporal Linda Okello of altering the size of her official uniform. But in an exclusive interview, Corporal Okello insisted the skirt was her official uniform and that she had only gained weight since it was issued.

Corporal Okello was noticed because she was different. Don’t be afraid to do something that people may not like.

IKEA, whose idea was to make people assemble their own furniture, has made them a unique and popular brand.

Similarly, Twitter’s concept of 140-character messages in a world of over-sharing was not instantly embraced; now the social network has more than 200 million users.

Don’t be afraid to be remarkable or different in your marketing. Try new things, and maybe you’ll produce some content that inspires analysis in 2044.

Indeed, the explanation of a good brand should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.