Somewhere along the way, cynicism became cool in American popular culture. That is to say, many people will dismiss music, TV shows, fashion, and everything else in the world and somehow be considered cool for doing so.
Saying you dislike something is a way to give yourself power over it: I am in a position to judge this thing and I have deemed it to be less than me. Marketers are certainly not above using cynicism for brand campaigns.
Cynicism in Marketing
Take McDonald’s “Random Red Couch” campaign that aims to lampoon ads that utilize hip young people sitting on a couch. The ad calls out how common this trope has become and in the process, dismisses said trope. Theoretically, this makes McDonald’s seem cool and funny. In practice, this video has 415 dislikes and only 55 likes on YouTube.
The problem with this commercial and with cynicism in marketing is that it is built around the central idea that disliking a thing is somehow superior to showing enthusiasm for something. For the most part, as marketers, we want people to like the things we market. We are trying to make people fans of our products. While tearing down another brand or brands may be one way to reach this end goal, a far more effective, and ultimately less jaded approach is sincerity.
Why Sincerity Beats Cynicism
Sincerity means explaining honestly to the human beings whom you hope will become your customers how your product or services will make their lives better. Sincerity means treating your customers the way you would want to be treated as a customer. Sincerity means that instead of tearing down a competitor, you try to make a real, positive difference in the lives of your fans and followers. For some examples of brands that succeeded in creating effective, authentic campaigns, click here.
Sincerity needs to bleed into any content marketing campaign you embark upon. While a negative article might get you more clicks in the short-run, creating a positive campaign will help you convert more fans long term. If you want fans to genuinely like your brand, you need to be genuine with them.