May. 23rd, 2013

Somewhere In This City, A Brand Manager Is Drunk And Weeping.

If there’s one thing we’ve always preached on the mighty Mortarblog, it’s this: Be brave. Be honest. Be nice. (OK, that’s three things. We’re bad at rules. You should know that by now. Hush.) And we dearly love to point out examples of these qualities. So allow us to stand up and applaud the stones on Mazda’s brand team – it takes a ton-and-a-half of those to hand the keys to your brand to Sir-Doctor Stephen T. Colbert, DFA.  “Did he just call it an Oldsmoblile? Did he just say “Mazda, It’s What’s For Dinner?” But that doesn’t follow the Brand Guidelines!”

You’re right, Imaginary Brand Manager’s Brain, it doesn’t. But – hey, put that tequila down – your customers don’t follow them, either. Because your customers are people. And they love it when you treat them like people.



There’s more.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 3.37.42 PM

(There’s even more, but ironically, most of the videos have been blocked by another mega-corporation whose name rhymes with Schmiacom.)

OK, sure, somebody’s gonna have to explain to a boardroom full of Japanese executives why the brand just got mentioned in the same sentence as “…a spelunker on meth,” but there’s a solution for that. Observe:

Yamanuchi-san, with all due respect, if we’re being asked to appeal to younger drivers, we should actually be appealing. As opposed to this:”

Shudder. You know how your parents mispronounce rock bands’ names* and make you want to pound your face into the kitchen table? They’re just trying to be part of your world, man. Give them a break. They raised you…even through The Awkward Years That Shall Not Be Mentioned. So they get a pass. YOU DO NOT, MAZDA.

*The drummer from Grizzly Bear bought my mom’s old house. For reals. But she simply will not quit calling them “The Grizzly Bears.” Mom! Gah!

Let’s review: If you want to appeal to The Kids…be appealing.Which means this: Letting Go Of Your Brand And Its Contrived Standards = Good.  Trying To Appeal To The Kids With A 42 Year-Old Song = Bad.

In any case, Random-But-Brave-And-Probably-Soon-To-Be-Job-Hunting-Mazda-Brand-Manager, we raise a glass to you. Mazda took a chance. We noticed. It’s no Scion, but it’s brave. And brave is a helluva good start.

Speaking of starts, it’s time to talk about a finish.

Almost eight years ago, a boy came to Mortar with a dream. A dream of doing work that didn’t suck, in a world that surely needed some. That dream came true, even if sometimes it was like one of those dreams where you wake up sweaty and think, “How the hell did my seventh-period English teacher even fit into that clown suit? And what the #&$ was up with that giant talking trout? No more pizza after 11.” Ahem. As usual, I digress.

The point? I’m off to weirder pastures. It has been a great pleasure to serve our clients, a true honor to serve with my co-workers, and a stone groove hanging out with all of you. I hope you’ll keep up with my exploits via my website.  More importantly,  I really hope you’ll keep giving smart people a chance to fight The Dumb that is oh-so-pervasive out there. It’s true that smart work makes you money.  But that’s not why we fight so hard for it. The reason people like us get up every morning and run full speed into a brick wall? We all have a chance to make the world suck just a little bit less.  That is worth fighting for. In fact it’s sacred. I hope you never, ever give up. I know I won’t.

Thank you, and good night.


  • May. 23rd, 2013

    A blog that hasn’t sucked … Thanks to your quest for work that doesn’t suck. Thanks Hugh. Good luck. And keep the quest alive!

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