19. Interpersonal communications

Some short tips on body language in the workplace.

‘Personal branding’, in this age of social media and free agents, has become a buzz term. For a somewhat skeptical but good take on it see here.

The customer-firm interface:
A legendary recording, perhaps twenty years old, from an Australian company that sells hot water systems and had an emergency customer hotline but nobody to answer the calls. These messages were left by an increasingly frustrated customer, with a very strong Aussie accent and a blunt communicative style. (audio only)

President Barack Obama is perhaps the finest orator of our time. During the eulogy for South Carolina victims of a racially-motivated shooting he gave us a deeply moving moment when he sang part of the hymn Amazing Grace and spoke then of the victims and how they had found grace in the faith.

And finally…

20. Discontent and crisis

Throughout history peoples have used shared cultural references in subversive ways, and sometimes created news cultures with a direct subversive or at least critical or parodying intent that is then lost over time. English nursery rhymes typically have their origins in political critique. (rather obviously, in ‘The Grand Old Duke of York’, a little less so in ‘Baa Baa Black Sheep’). Authoritarian societies have typically maintained broad sedition laws, which make it an offence to mock or even just criticise political authority and its symbols.

Many of these laws remain ‘on the statute books’ in societies that have become liberal in practice, though sometimes they are acted upon again. to both the mirth and dismay of the many who have been accustomed to freedom of expression and take a sanguine view of the impacts of communicative acts upon a society.

Japan has not yet produced an iconic riff on the national anthem Kimigayo, although there some examples.

From a little known band …

Another obscure effort.. an 8 bit remix this time…

For liberals, aggressive hate speech, and racial and other vilification or, in a milder vein, hurtful stereotyping, can be problematic. Even if not supporting restrictive laws, for fear of the precedents it may create in terms of constraining freedom of expression, sanctioning of prejudice, and incitement to it in particular, through informal societal pressure is widely advocated.

Australian comedian Adam Hills takes to the national anthem, in a style more associated with popular raging rock star Jimmy Barnes, after calling a halt to a rather mainstream stirring rendition of the anthem.. owing to the inherent silliness of the lyrics.

Humour is a common element in advertising in some countries, but by no means all. The forms of comedy vary considerably across cultures, and change through cultural exchange and the mobility of individuals. Back in 2015 the New York Times ran an interesting article on the changing comedy scene in China, and how one Chinese comedian had his career defining break in the USA.

Here is a parody of a Toyota commercial that had made a feature of father sending his daughter off to go and serve in the US military. The parody was done by the hugely popular Saturday Night Live show. The original CM shows Toyota’s nuance in its localisation of advertising creative.

The last word from the late Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols..


21. Audiences and laws

Firms have become ever more vigilant about the legal implications of their corporate communications. At the same time they struggle to attract and retain audience attention in crowded information and entertainment markets. Traditional media enterprises are also struggling to retain audience, and to monetise the views they do get on digital platforms. All of this adds up to quandaries re creative content and audience attraction, while media firms face ethical dilemmas re editorial independence versus the financial imperative to make audience attention pay.
US-based British commentator/entertainer John Oliver goes after media sites on so-called ‘native advertising’, namely promotions disguised as regular media content.


22. In conclusion

Back to where we started: building a brand narrative, which needs a sense of the art of storytelling. Here is a good place to start, with a talk by leading Hollywood scriptwriter Andrew Stanton on the clues to a great story (there are a range of subtitle options: I have embedded the version with Japanese).