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Have An Opinion: A Playground Pep Talk
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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"Do you have enemies? Good. That means that you've stood for something, sometime in your life."
Winston Churchill

Our social fabric has become like a sea of eggshells. If anyone says anything that can be construed as "offensive," someone is quick to raise the red flag and call to arms everyone who has be ability to complain. And on the flipside, businesses and brands, who have become so sensitive to the negative light, are just as quick to apologize to the respective audience and retract whatever was said.

Stop it.

Remember in elementary school and you got into a little argument with another kid? Or there may have been a kid or group of kids that you just simply don't get along with? What did Mom and Dad say?

"Stay away from them, and totally ignore them. If you don't bother them, they won't bother you."

Why can't these elementary rules of the road apply to big boys and girls? Because we think too much into things.

Listen, as marketers and communicators work with brands to deliver messages that connect consumers, many quickly find out that there are groups of people that will never want to hear the message.

And that's okay. Just like the playground, not every boy or girl, consumer or advocacy group, is going to like what you're going to say. 

So stop caring. Like a bully, if you continue to give them attention, they will look for ways to influence your behavior. Don't give them that power.

For example, an advertising watchdog got heat from ThinkProgress about its portrayal of a transgender person when it was trying to say "The Truth isn't Always Easy." The ad was tongue-in-cheek, and not very malicious. 

ThinkProgress can get over it.

As a young black American male, we see plenty of suggestive and offensive ads and promotions directed towards our demographic, or at least poor portrayals of a "day in the life..."

We get over it.

If we are approaching a time when brands cannot express themselves without being afraid if they are going to hurt someone's feelings, our industry is in trouble. The goal isn't to please everyone. The goal is to have an opinion, and find those consumers that share it. 

That's it. 

Don't like it? Get over it.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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