• About Tom Dougherty

    Tom Dougherty CEO, Stealing Share

    Tom Dougherty is the President and CEO of Stealing Share, Inc., and has helped national and global brands such as Lexus, IKEA and Tide steal market share over his 25-year career.

    An often-quoted source on business and brands, he has been featured recently by the New York Times and CNN, discussing topics ranging from television to Apple to airlines.

    Tom also regularly speaks at conferences as a keynote and break-out speaker. To find out more on inviting him to your speaking engagement and view a video of him speaking, click here.

    You can also reach him via email attomd@stealingshare.com.

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Political Correctness in Marketing

Political Correctness does not belong in branding

Last weekend, Bill Maher mentioned that he, Jerry Seinfeld and Chris Rock no longer do standup comedy on college campuses. The reason? Apparently you cannot be a great comic in the shadow of overarching and ponderous political correctness. Bill said that it is the truth in stereotypes that allow us to recognize the irony in the joke. Don’t believe me? Try spending 20 minutes at a party with an insurance salesman.

Companies hire Stealing Share because they are committed to moving the marketing needle. We always tell them that they can expect a few black eyes when we are hired because our first job is to slay the sacred cows. We strive to tell the truth and that often involves an agreement that what is politically incorrect might just be the Holy Grail in a brand strategy. Great brands embrace what is and that may come at the expense of what should be.

The price of clarity is the risk of offense

Pope Francis and Political Correctness
No one can accuse Pope Francis of being mean spirited or uncaring. But you cannot accuse him of political correctness either. Click here to read a blog about the Pope

So know this: The price of clarity is the risk of offense. Don’t waste your advertising or marketing dollars on banal instruments. If you want someone to notice your brand, consider switching and change loyalties, there is just no time for political correctness. You need to be viewed as legitimate, real, important and memorable. These are the exact opposite of political correctness. They are the requisites of clarity.

If clarity in marketing is chocolate then political correctness is vanilla. It is slightly appealing to everyone but no one loses sleep when they can’t get it.

Political CorrectnessWe all recognize political correctness in branding and marketing. The commercials are peopled with just the right ethnic mix to mirror the population. They are gender neutral and avoid any language that can upset the apple cart. The problem is you need to upset the apple cart if you want to steal market share.

At some point, every successful brand needs to recognize that its brand is not for everyone. It is for some, but not all.

Branding is about ownership. The ownership of belief, values, precepts and importance. How do you know what is important? By speaking in clear terms that underscore the faintest of truths. You can’t own vanilla but you can own Cherry Garcia.

2 thoughts on “Political Correctness in Marketing

  1. I am really looking forward to the day when every phrase and “thought” no longer needs to be modified to suit the masses. Maybe if they just put the words “Eat Me” above “Vanilla” – it would have a little more ownership and be remembered by the consumer? I think Slim Jim has since dropped that tagline.

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