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...where we find shorter spaces between us.
-- Bobby Ocean

Thursday, October 13, 2011


It's ALWAYS Time To Update Our List

I have always had more than a keen interest in Pop Culture. As I grew through grade school, television added to my fervor. Then radio.

Pop fascinated me. Any popularly held viewpoint could change; it could be expressed in almost any way. There were experts who had a professorial delivery. There were snobs with their better-than-thou pontification, there were opinions in editorials, there were positions to protest, there were comedians with current relateable barbs. Popular opinion was entertaining and all over -- the news, it was in the papers, the movies. And it was in the songs on my almighty radio.

Popular Opinion was very commercial. marketable. It wore many masks and even occasionally surfaced as just what it is, the more current references to the past. It has been called Trivia, Name That Song, Books Of Lists, tons more, but its one common factor is its transience.

It's called "popular" opinion because the trendy, prevalent perspective would change all the time, like the weather. It could well be termed "Current Opinion," but that doesn't have the same phonic fluidity. Looking further, the whole phrase seems to infer an opinion involved, when it's really just complacent, dazed mental grazing. What was giddily popular one day becomes another's trivia.

During a career in radio broadcasting, as a DJ playing popular music ("the Pop Hits!, the Top-40, then 30, then 20"), the value of Popular Opinion became instantly apparent and, of course, grew with the ongoing experience. I had already decided that, if I was going to go on the radio and make a fool out of myself, it might as well be the most popular one. Now, decades later, looking back on the whole thing, I see a string of number one ranked stations on my resume. And much valued experience.

Occasionally, it so happened on the radio dial that a dark cloud formed over a frequency and its station's type of presentation completely failed with the public, When this happened, it was not an uncommon practice to change the call letters along with the music playlist and all the previous players. Sadly, I knew powerful people who really enjoyed the firing process.

Not very deep thinking but that's the way it was. And, that's the way it is. job insecurity is everywhere today, with a slight update. It's no longer so much "you're fired," as it is "we're changing the direction we're going and you're too closely associated with what we're leaving behind," or "we're eliminating that position. You'll have to apply for the new one."

Truth be told, it has little to do with the workers; it's their salaries that go beyond the newly hired boss' dictated pay grades. The Boss also has his strings being pulled and will also most probably be let go soon enough.

Why get rid of the personnel who were only doing what they were told? Because the new regime wants to totally distance the station from that previous "loser" image, Thus,  a clean slate. In radio that meant "re-branding" the call letters successfully enough to go out and sell time again.

Re-branding. It can certainly be misused. In radio slang, it is called "putting lipstick on the pig." I know broadcasting so I use it as a metaphor, but it is just one of thousands of industries suffering the same disabling effect of greed at the top.

The Top Ten Of List Disappointingly Ineffective Industries is such a small fraction of all of them that you might run away, crying if the entire list was posted. Still, it's a start. My immediate top Ten List includes: the Oil Industry, The Medical Profession, Fast Food, Banking, Wall Street, my own Broadcasting Industry, the Oakland PD and a few others that have achieved such a Massive Amount of Nothing, or Sustained Evil In Such Propensity that, if they were radio stations, would have been repackaged long ago.

Popular opinion, and consequent re-branding, is moving faster and faster now. You can see it everywhere. Some will see it in the current Occupy Movements, others in the Netflix Switcheroo from Quickster and back to square one again. Others witness radical changes from the standpoint of practicing To Live Without As Much, which can be akin to spiritual.

Considering how disastrously current popular opinions have changed on so many of the products, and institutions with which we grew up, it occurred to me to draw up a Short List that most needed a re-branding if they are to survive. (I'll leave the Long List for you to compile, k?)

Tracking Current Popular Opinion, we note the following need Emergency Re-Branding, stat! Your list may vary:

Fast Food Industry - Seen As: selling Mystery Meat along with chemically injected ground beasts and artery-clogging fried potatoes, to go. They've lost the Wholesome Feeling. Need to regain trust. Hmmm..
Should be Re-Branded as: Keebler Burgers.

Broadcast Radio and TV News - Seen As: completely missing the concept of the product they're assigned to deliver, losing focus of the big picture and constantly re-hashing shared footage. This is a result of corporate "cost cutting," the two-dimensional juggling of numbers that fired just about all the reporters, and reduced even shareholders' TV content to bad play-acting and rendering that new HD-TV screen close to useless, unless you like re-runs. They've lost the entire nation's trust. How can they be repackaged?
Should be Re-Branded as: "Ken and Barbie World News Rehash."

Banking Industry - Seen As: so greedy as to be institutionalized in a mental hospital, hiring only McHelpers with no authority whatsoever, willing only to make 30-years loans.
Should be Re-Branded as: "Safe Stay-cation Theme Parks," where you can still stand in long lines, spend all your vacation money and not have to go on those pesky rides.

Apple's New iCloud - Already Seen As: way easier than Facebook, but, then, isn't everything? It's looked upon as as way to save a lot of money and time by easily, effortlessly synching up all proprietary appliances with no cords, redundant downloading or personal time spent; it's automatic. Seen as a huge parting gift from Steve Jobs, it enters the marketplace beloved.
Could be Re-Branded as: "iCant Do Without It"

The Oakland P.D. - Seen As: that place in TV shows, like Wired, where everyone on the force has dark secret and multiple shadow alliances. Seems they go through their own Chiefs Of Police faster than TV Season pilot shows; been through three Chiefs and hundreds of cops in the last few years. They badly need to rid themselves of old thinking and start fresh.
Need to be seen as doing their job, so, in order to reestablish believability, so should be Re-Branded as: "The Oakland Boy Scouts," but until they achieve that stage, just call them: "The Oakland Raiders"

Oil Industry - Seen As: heartless fiduciary ticks on the warm, unprotected underbelly of an innocent populace. The people bought the damned cars they saw whizzing around corners, parking with ease, in the commercials. Now the people are inching along in Reality towards their jobs spewing fumes from the poisonous gas they were sold at a daily fluctuating price. They know they've been suckered. They pay for parking, maintenance, bridge fares, and know the money trap machines are addicted to gas. As SOON as any alternative is put on the market, they'll be all over it.
Should be Re-Branded as: "Not Snakes."

That's a Short List. Half a dozen embarrassing cases only. There are too many more; we could both blog for years. point is: their CEOs should, at the very least, resign.

Popular Opinion mutates and spirals in all different directions every day, faster and faster. In Online Marketing, it is becoming more and more important to protect your "Net Reputation." One sure way to maintain this critical focus is to concentrate on serving rather than harvesting for self.

When you find other ways, be sure to share. That's how our perception changes, twists and rolls. It is a spiraling energy. A revolution.



Bobby Ocean said...

If you like this, you like going to:
http://bit.ly/ncNFgJ Or, you could hide your head in the sand...

Andrea said...

Nailed it as usual...:-)

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