Where branding goes wrong

I have to admit that until last week I didn’t have the faintest idea of what being “Woke” meant.


Apparently being Woke is being alert to injustice in society, especially racism. “we need to stay angry, and stay woke” The term was actually coined during the black civil rights movement of the 20th century. The term died down in common usage during the first decade of this century and then had something of a renaissance during the last decade. It has now become so prevalent that many companies are branding themselves to become as “woke” as possible.

This is obviously great but branding experts need to be in tune with the exact meaning of phrases as the meaning can change alarmingly in a manner of days.

Perhaps my favourite example of where things have gone alarmingly off kilter were the marketing campaigns built around Netflix.

Do you want to come to mine and “Netflix and Chill” literally meant just that. I am tired and literally want to relax and binge watch a boxset for 3 hours straight. It soon changed to have another meaning attached to it. Please look up on the internet now but basically it has become an innuendo for something completely different. This went un-noticed by many top firms. A well-known car manufacturer ran the ad campaign “Netflix and Chill while driving to work” to advertise its autonomous vehicles. A well known convenience store advertised the perfect snacks for Netflix and Chill weather.

So although it makes sense to keep your branding as current as possible it also makes it easier to score a disastrous own goal.