17 Apr Best Practice Fusion of culture and commerce
Regular readers will know that we give politics and religion a very wide berth in our blog. But this week we’re touching on religion. You see, Easter caught our attention this year. What’s it all about? What are we celebrating? And, in deconstructing it, is there an insight to what we do in marketing and communications?
As far as religious celebrations go, Easter is a big one. It’s the most important event in the Christian calendar because it’s a celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Which was obviously a very big deal. And yet the modern celebration of Easter (chocolate, bunnies, eggs, chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs…) has absolutely nothing to do with the Bible or Christianity.
So, what gives? Marketing, that’s what.
You see, the ancient Roman Catholic Church wanted to make Christianity more appealing to non-Christians. Their solution was to blend the celebration of the resurrection with the popular spring fertility celebration. Genius marketing. Take a current cultural event (spring fertility celebration) loved by the target market and wrap it around a powerful, historical religious event.
This kind of fusion with popular cultural events is happening all around us, all the time. From a commercial perspective, think of Boxing Day sales, major sports events sponsorships, seasonal fashion, even the end of Financial Year… cultural events are fused to commercial initiatives. It’s a powerful way for businesses to tap into people’s intrinsic desire to be part of a tribe.
The success of cultural fusions is ultimately decided by the dual reactions of attention and spending. The former generally leads to the latter, which is why we will likely see a great deal more fusing of culture with commerce. Take Oreo in the Super Bowl, Virgin in the UK when the same-sex marriage bill was passed, or Rolex and TEDx. All are good examples of how brands have fused with, and leveraged, cultural events.
What does all this mean for our cultural events? Quite simply, more brand involvement. To ensure this approach is sustainable, brands need to demonstrate that their involvement in our cultural events improves our culture. People know when they’re being sold to, brands need to do more than just sell in our culture.