Geek Chic

The spiel for Neil Feineman’s book Geek Chic goes something like this: “The Ultimate Guide to Geek Culture There's never been a better time to be a geek. After decades, if not centuries of persecution, ridicule and never, ever getting the girl, geeks are hot. They are scientists, programmers, artists, musicians, actors, videogamers, skateboarders and architects. They have risen above unimaginative educational systems, hostile social environments, and conventional employers to develop the most liberating, global, inventive and democratic culture on the planet. They are geeks and their time has come”.

Feineman’s book poses the idea that geeks are the gatekeepers of the new economy. They are smart, inventive, left of centre, not afraid to walk a different path and are passionate (and maybe a tad obsessive). They are linear and specialist with a specific interest and focus that rarely deviates.

They are cool (as seen on TV). Flicking through the range of TV channels over the past few weeks… Couldn’t help but notice that Geeks are IT!  Albeit some weird programming was obviously in action but it seems geeks are the kings of the screen.

The emotionally undeveloped and sexually stunted men from ‘The Big Bang Theory’ made an appearance. Couldn’t help noticing that the most academically gifted and socially powerful member of the group (refer to image of man in beige, plaid slacks) has the lowest social and emotional intelligence and is by far, the geekiest.

A ‘Beauty and The Geek’ re-run was also to be found. Who would ever guess that such plain, uncommunicative and geeky chaps could be hugely successful in their professional lives and have acquired secret millions from their geekiness to boot?  They obviously wear their talent and success on the inside.

And, to top it all off, there was Glee – as mentioned, weird programming or maybe viewers just really love this stuff?  We know they do. They love it so much that Geek fashion has made its way into the mainstream – Nerd glasses are a high style item, bow ties and braces are on the way back, the bookish nerd look is de rigueur for men, not to mention fake dental braces being adopted by Asian teens (but we digress, that particular trend is driven by a need for status not nerdish-ness – Clearly this will be a subject for another blog down the track).

Intelligence and education are respected and both are highly aspirational and the biggest geeks of all - Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg and Australia’s own Dick Smith (who could forget?) are all highly successful in adult life.

A Salon interview with author Alexandra Robbins (The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth) reveals that being popular and attractive (i.e. non-geekish) in high school does not indicate you’ll be successful as an adult. Importantly, Robbins found that the qualities that make someone an outsider or geek-ish will help him or her succeed in adult life.  Guess this goes some way to explaining the appeal of geeks. The meek shall inherit the earth!

So how geeky are you? 

Take this test to find out!

The Importance of Truth in Marketing

This week saw Domino’s pizza chain make its ‘biggest announcement in 20 years’, preceded by an extensive social media and TV teaser campaign. They said they’d listened to their customers and that they’d ‘pushed themselves to respond’. They said it would be big, that it would be a ‘game changer’.  Around the office, even those of us who do not frequent this particular pizza chain couldn’t help feeling mildly curious as to what they could possibly have come up with that would redefine the category.

The big announcement turned out to be a range of pizzas with square bases and new toppings. Unfortunately for them, the news fell rather flat among many of their customers who took to social media to respond, voicing their disappointment that the announcement did not live up to the hype they had created.

Domino’s share price dropped that day and the company seems to have gone into damage control mode with the CEO (who fronted the ads) personally answering questions on Domino’s Facebook page. The overwhelming question from Domino’s customers is ‘how is that a game changer?’ The question on our minds is ‘how did that get through the marketing department of a global giant like Domino’s?’
It highlights to us the importance of truth in marketing – an age-old concept but never more relevant than today, in a society that loves to scrutinise big companies and when it has never been easier for consumers to talk back. Let’s give Domino’s the benefit of the doubt and assume that they really did believe that this would be a game changer and that their customers would be thrilled. A simple round of good research  - customer feedback - would quickly have revealed that not to be the case and a rethink ordered. 

Truth in marketing is not what we as marketers think; it’s what our customers believe.