What Childish Gambino Can Teach Marketers About Distractions

What Childish Gambino Can Teach Marketers About Distractions

THIS IS AMERICA

The internet has been ablaze with reactions to Childish Gambino a.k.a Donald Glover’s visceral This is America. It’s a shocking achievement that upends the status quo, and demands your attention. However, the video leaves you to decide where that attention is focused. Indeed, the imagery, references, and background violence are only offset by the foreground dance numbers…or are they?


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Many articles have drawn on the video’s juxtaposition, and how we get caught so easily in its distractions. The New Yorker summarized it well: “The very fact that the dance scenes are already being chopped into fun little gifs online, divorcing them from the video’s brutality, only serves to prove his point.” As a marketer, I’ve read through similar conclusions with some regret, having been drawn to Glover’s presence, more so than the messages surrounding him. A few more views left me overwhelmed, and at times, very emotional.


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Marketers, how distracted are we?

For me, an inevitable question presented itself: how distracted are we as marketers? Do we lock-on to the latest viral fads, creating a voice that relies on short-term conversations? Are we glossing over the long-term relationships we could and should be building with our audience? In my last blog, I wrote that “It’s easy to say that consumers’ attention spans are too refractory for brands to keep up with, however, perhaps it’s not a matter of distraction but choice.” In truth, marketers have a similar choice in how we develop that voice, and such choices can minimize customer churn.

In this day and age of endless media, across multiple touch-points, when time is of the essence for both ourselves and our audience, we need to bring real value to the table, as opposed to short-term gimmicks. We cannot afford careless distractions as marketers.


An excellent example is Guinness’ Compton Cowboys campaign, one that goes to a community’s roots and uncovers true purpose. Both the subjects of the campaign, and Guinness’ brand voice stand out to create meaningful stories that are as moving as they are relatable to the target audience.

If you haven’t seen or heard This is America, view it here. For more on how marketers can use distractions to their advantage, check out Adweek’s article here.

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