by Mitch Joel – President, Twist Image & author of “Six Pixels of Separation”
Don’t all famous people look exhausted?
Of course that’s probably just a simple man’s interpretation and can be easily psycho-analyzed to death. Still, I have been thinking a lot about fame lately. What does it mean? Why do we seek it out? What is the point? I have had a strange life, in that I have been surrounded (from a young age) by people who are famous. Even now, I can count some famous people as true friends, and when I take to the stage to speak, I am (more often than not) bookended by some pretty famous folks as well. The truth is that these people don’t look all that exhausted, and while they probably have similar issues that regular folks (like you and I) have — I’m sure they fight with their spouses, that they’re disappointing their kids, that they grapple with addiction and are faced with stress and anxiety — it seems like they are content with how things have played out. They’re probably just busier than the vast majority of us and are put in front of more opportunities because of the attention that they’re getting.
The secret about fame.
I was having breakfast with some colleagues and someone implied that I was famous. I brushed it off. It felt weird. No one was interrupting our meeting and asking for an autograph. I’m anonymous in my day-to-day life. The implication was that I may be too busy to do something. Anything. Too busy to respond to email. Too busy to look at a new business opportunity. To busy to help and mentor someone. Too busy to give some time to a local charity. Whatever. When I prodded them a little bit more by scoffing at the notion, they said that my content is everywhere and that it’s hard not to look at the digital marketing landscape and not see my name pop up. They were being kind. I was being defensive.
It’s not about the fame.
When I think of fame, I think of individuals who are solely focused on being famous. You probably know people who have a lot of friends and followers like this on social media. They like to let you know how much of a big deal they are on Twitter, and the like. You probably know some celebrities who are famous for being famous (*cough* Kardashian *cough*). It’s not about the fame. I don’t wake up and think (or dream) about being famous. In fact, most of the famous people that I know are the same. I wake up and want to make the marketing industry better and more respected. I wake up and want brands to find better (and more human) ways to connect with their consumers. I wake up and have a deep desire to uncover some kind of relevant nugget and share it with clients and you. If the by-product is that people like this, share this, connect with this and want to be a part of this, then that is magical… and it’s very flattering.
Don’t confuse fame with chasing an audience.
In the massive hit song Fame by David Bowie, there’s this line: “Fame, it’s not your brain, it’s just the flame.” It’s a great line because it’s true. Brands try to get attention and (some) are willing to do just about anything to get it. What most fail to realize is that fame isn’t a destination. Fame is a minor outcome of doing something that people want to connect with. AdWeek reported that the Super Bowl ads for this coming year are sold out. The article states: “Fox has sold the last of its available in-game Super Bowl spots, securing an average rate of $4 million per 30 seconds of airtime for the Feb. 2 broadcast. Media buyers said that latecomers who urgently wanted to break into the NFL‘s marquee event invested as much as $4.5 million per :30.” If you don’t think brands and people are desperate for fame, you are not paying attention.
The thing about fame.
Fame is exciting and it’s seducing. I don’t believe that I am famous (not for a minute), but I can tell you about its seduction powers by watching those that I know who have a modicum of it. Those who aren’t exhausted by it are the ones who aren’t thinking about what it is and the value of it. They don’t let fame go to their head (which is not easy). Instead, they are head down and deeply focused on creating whatever it is that is important to them. They want to know that it has meaning, because it gives their lives meaning. If you advertise for fame and not because you’re trying to inform people of something new, it’s probably going to blow up in your face.
Don’t think about becoming famous. Think about creating a impact with the work that you do. Let’s hope the Super Bowl ads deliver that kind of value.
*This post was originally published at Twist Image.