A couple weeks ago, going through my DVR lineup, it occurred to me just how much we like our heroes and heroines flawed. The characters that we rally behind are in one way or another fundamentally flawed. From Chuck to Big Bang to Grey’s Anatomy to just about any form of reality TV – the people we love have serious issues. The question is simply whether we know it up front or are waiting intently for the other shoe to drop.
This of course isn’t surprising, we all like rooting for the underdog. No one finds constant perfection entertaining. So if we want the characters of our lives flawed, what about our brands?
I would argue that there should be no difference. Obviously I don’t want to be cruising around in a mechanically flawed automobile that puts my family and other drivers at risk – but I’d also say there’s nothing wrong with an auto brand openly tackling a challenge, problem or cause that we can all get behind. Case in point, the new Chevy Volt. I am not a GM fan and I will not be an early adopter of the EV but I do admire the way GM has more or less put all its eggs in one basket on this one. If the Volt isn’t a success, there’s no way of knowing just how far GM will fall.
And I think this new ‘pioneering’ image of GM will play out in its favor. In the case of GM, it has to. So I am, as I’m sure you are, rooting for them.
There’s also the flipside to consider – when flaws and faults are discovered, why do so many brands try to hide from them, as though ignoring the problem will make it go away. Sticking to the auto and oil theme, both BP and Toyota (anyone else find Toyota’s slogan of “Moving Forward” ironic?) have been criticized for their relatively unapologetic PR strategy – which we’d agree has not worked out well for them. People are still anxiously awaiting a heartfelt apology and/or admission of fault.
So go ahead – embrace your sub-par-ness. People will love you for it. There’s just no other logical explanation for the longevity of gratingly annoying characters like Urkel.