"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world."
-Robin Williams, Dead Poets Society
Though our society suffered a tragedy in losing Robin Williams, it does provide us an opportunity to take a step back and meditate over what he did, what he accomplished, and the ideas he set forth across the world. His "stream of consciousness" routine is unlike anything we've seen before, and doubt we'll see again. The way the man used words and manipulated phrases was remarkable. The world should be glad that Williams found a career in comedy.
He would have been one heck of a marketer.
We started off with his quote about words and ideas because in both marketing and comedy, those two tools are the biggest tools in our toolbox. Without being able to establish relevancy with audiences, both a marketing campaign and a comedy show would fall flat on their faces.
Of course, the aims are different. Comedy is meant to make an audience laugh. Comedy takes some of the most serious topics in our lives and in society and discusses them in a way that isn't so frightening and taboo. Comedy provides a levity of sorts so people can feel better, for a moment.
Advertising is meant to inform and persuade particular audiences through visual, written, and audio cues with the ultimate goal of selling a product. Regardless of what these new-age "unmarketers" or "change agents" tell you, if the product isn't selling, the advertising isn't working.
But behind both comedy and advertising is the premise of using ideas and words that reach people. Thank you, Robin Williams, for helping us see that.
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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