What the Teen Choice Awards and Canadian Federal Election can teach us about doing the right thing.

By Amber Hudson

The Teen Choice Awards were on the other day. And as part of an, ahem, older demographic I found all the screaming beyond annoying (this from a mom who took her seven year old daughter to see One Direction at a crammed Rogers Center last night). But amidst all that hollering were the acceptance speeches where a fascinating theme emerged around being true to yourself and embracing who you are; that fitting in isn’t what matters and in fact being unique or even weird is okay. At a time when we discuss bullying openly in hopes to take away its power, this type of message is a good thing.

But one could argue all that positive discussion is a waste of time. Take one look at the Canadian Federal Election campaign and you’ll see we’re teaching these kids that being a bully will make you a leader. Imagine any political debate. Now replace the candidates with children. Would we allow our own kids to talk to each other that way? They shout, interrupt, sling insults and call each other names. They are rude, mean spirited and self-centred. In short, they are all bullies. Then there is the Conservative “He’s Just Not Ready” campaign against Justin Trudeau where they mock him, speak condescendingly and actually go so low as to make fun of his hair. It’s textbook bullying. (And don’t get me started on Donald Tru….I can’t even type it).

The lessons for brand leaders are:

  1. From the Teen Choice Awards: find a way to truly stand out and be different; to express your brand’s true self even if the rest of the crowd doesn’t get it. I think Skittles does a great job. Man, those ads are weird.
  2. From the Federal Election: ask yourself is winning at any cost worth it? Competition bashing is rarely a good approach as it makes neither brand look good. However Pepsi found a way to do it well. Remember this Pepsi ad? It works because Pepsi is saying as much about itself as it is about its competitor in a fun, cheeky way.

So, will the Conservative ads work? Sadly we think they will create enough doubt in Trudeau to be effective. But they shouldn’t feel proud of themselves.