How deep is thy love?

The point of today’s rant is to get to the heart of what drives commitment to brands.
Yes, we’ve sat in meetings and sprouted exactly why people follow one brand over another. But this isn’t that.

No, this is more about me as a regular punter, relative to something I experienced in the past week. And the past 20 years of my life.

It’s called Manchester United. And, I despise them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not just saying that. I hate this club. Everything about them. I almost hate the colour red because of them.
This weekend I attended both their training session (Friday) and their game against the Aussie All Stars (Saturday). I did it as part of my commitment to my son’s passion for football.


Click the Chevrolet for best Man United Goals Ever and exclusive Video of Eric Cantona shaving tips.

I’m a fan of always being open to ‘the lesson’ being taught, even in the most negative of circumstances. So, what did I learn, sitting there, immersed in a sea of red assholeness.

Oh, little fact that might help give context at this point: I’m a LIverpool supporter. I’ve spent 2 decades watching my team play that team, with different levels of failure. In South Africa where I grew up, there’re essentially 2 clubs. United and Liverpool. Maybe Everyton, or  The Arsenal. More recently, Chelsea – Born of shirt sales and metrosexuality.

Back to United. I sat there watching them train and then watching them play, genuinely quite impressed by them. Speed, camaraderie, scale. It’s all there. They’re even nice blokes. Ferdinand was great. A real ambassador.
I had this crazy yet genuine thought. Julian, you’ve spent 20 years being pissed off. What if you’d just changed? What if you’d just swapped sides, gone over to Manchester United, and you could have celebrated a thousand tropheys, a handful of Champions League Titles, got to do Alpha male fist pumps in crowded bars…Surely that makes sense. 20 years of sweet success.
Yes, I could have.
But then I’d be one of them.
And that isn’t happening.

Why do people feel so strongly towards this club?
And conversely, why would I rather sit there in the freezing cold of match night, happily succumb to advanced hypothermia rather than wear one of those scarves or jackets?
“Friend. You’re blue in the face. Here, use my Manchester United Bomber Jacket.”
“Ttttttttthanks. But no thanks. I’d rather die.”

Seriously, I could have been buried in ice rather than even use the warmth of a supporter nearby to save me.

Is this the rivalry of sport? Is it the family I choose? ie. Montague / Capulet? United / Liverpool.
As my son smartly pointed out, “Dad, they’re not even Liverpool’s natural rivals. Everton are.”
Whatever. “Hate isn’t logical son.”

You’re not going to get me to change. Regardless of Liverpool’s patchy past. There’s something in me that says that this is my blood, and you don’t go against that.

Now, can a regular Beep-Beep supermarket scanned brand do this? Pepsi vs. Coke.
Nike vs Adidas. BMW vs Mercedes. Perhaps.
It’s almost like you need to appoint an adversary, so that the buyer can pick a side. Really get the gloves off for you.

Harder to do with a Marmalade or Beef stock cube, but somewhere in our psychological DNA, we make a decision that a brand is for us. And then what happens?
We protect it? We talk it up when it’s down. We will it to succeed. We put our hearts into it. We invest. We cheer. We believe. We follow.
This is not due to performance. Or trends. Its based in a relationship that somewhere got ‘branded’ into us.

I’ve heard a couple of opinions in the past few years that ‘branding’ isn’t as important anymore, that the world is governed by experiences.
While I agree that experiences are important, there’s no doubt in my mind that branding, and the act of developing, building, and most of all, marrying brands with believers till death do us part, as I witnessed 83 000 Man united supporters drinking Kool Aid on Saturday, is of paramount importance.

While I cannot understand their love, I cannot change it.
I doubt there’s anything I could write, that could save a Manchester United Fan.


One thought on “How deep is thy love?

  1. It’s not really a valid comparison, IMO. 72% of Pepsi drinkers also buy Coke – the kind of tribal identity with a brand you talk about just doesn’t exist.

    The closest might be something like the Apple / Samsung fanboy wars – but these mostly take place on internet forums and YouTube comments, and are rarely played out in the wider world, where people are perfectly ready to switch if there’s a good deal, or they just like a particular product.

    Let’s just concentrate on getting their attention.


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