Forgive the intrusion, but I have something important I need to say. Things have changed between us and I’m not sure I can go on like this. For years you’ve been telling me things I don’t want to know, shouting demands at me, delivering ultimatums and deadlines.
You’ve followed me round, interrupting my reading of newspapers and magazines, shouting at me during my favourite TV programmes, following me around the internet offering me things I am not interested in.
You’ve called me a ‘consumer’, you’ve often got my name wrong, you’ve littered my doorstep, you’ve made the verges of the road ugly. I’ve really had enough.
Through all of this you’ve imprisoned me, kept me like a battery hen, assumed I’ll just lay a £50 note for you on demand every month. Well I’m not having it any more.
It has been going on for decades. It started when you assumed that because I lived in a postcode area I’d like exactly the same stuff as the weird bloke in the synthetic polo shirt next door. Then you started looking at my shopping and making assumptions about where I wanted to go on holiday or what I might like in the way of garden tools or insurance offers.
What do you think I am? There’s no more ‘what’, brand. For now on it’s ‘who‘.
From minute to minute I don’t know what I want and I don’t need you telling me what to buy. I have tribes of family, friends and colleagues that talk to me and show me things. We work out what we’re interested in between ourselves and then make decisions. We rely on conversation. That’s a two-way exchange, often without an obvious purpose or motive, just in case you’re interested.
Sometimes you phone me up at home and try to pretend that you’re interested in me, but you evidently aren’t. All you want is payment. All you want is a soulless transaction and I just can’t do this anymore. It is all take, take, take.
So I’ve taking to blocking you. I have software that stops you from following me around online, I have technology that blocks your ads. I use Netflix to avoid your interruptions to my favourite shows. I’ve registered with the telephone preference service to stop your insincere calls and I’ve registered with a service to avoid you littering my doorstep.
I feel a bit sorry for you, to be honest. I manage YOU now, Mr Brand. I decide what gets through and what I’ll share with my friends. What I look for is sincerity, humour and helpfulness. I look for evidence that you’re not making a calculation based on my address pitched into a software programme or a probability calculation based on the fact that I bought pomegranate juice and flat leaf parsley last weekend. I look for signs that you’re interesting and interested. I look for evidence that you’re thinking intelligently and sometimes counter-intuitively.
You’re going to have to learn some new tricks, Mr Brand. Part of it might be about treating your staff as individuals and encouraging them to talk about you in an unspun and unscripted way. Part of it might be about doing some things that aren’t done for obvious effect or return. They’re just nice, interesting things that might get you into a conversation with me or my friends again.
But for now I’m leaving you. I’m not saying that it’s over forever, but you’re going to have to try a lot harder and get to know the real me a lot better before I’ll let you back into my life.
Hamish (not Amish, Hamisa or Shamish).