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Much has already been written about Gillette's recent, “The best a man can be” ad. The spot, if you haven’t seen it yet, provides a clear, albeit broad message to men about how they should be behaving in the era of #Metoo.

Like almost every topic in the current political climate, it quickly became a partisan debate. On the more conservative side of things, people took this as an attack on all men. Many called for a boycott. I’m guessing it’s a lot of the same people that burned their Nike gear last year after Nike released the Kaepernick ad. At the time of writing, the video has over 25 million views and over 1.2 …

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After working on a sneaker brand for a good chunk of this past year, my work life has been steadily sliding into the world of sneaker aficionados and fast-moving street fashion. I’ve been learning all about this culture filled with high-profile collaborations, super-limited releases, and the ultimate value of hype. My exploration took a turn during my trip to one of the Meccas of the streetwear religion: ComplexCon. A festival created by Complex Magazine that covers art, culture, music, food, and of course, sneakers.

I arrived in Long Beach that sunny November weekend with a backpack’s worth of clothes and a head full of preconceived notions. I was still a skeptic with a purely academic understanding of the culture, like a historical anthropologist that’s only able to find meaning through artifacts and secondhand stories. …

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Change sucks. I used to hate change. I mean, I really despised it. This was probably related to growing up in a military family and moving a lot throughout my childhood. For me, a change meant losing something rather than gaining something new. It meant losing my room, my school, and my friends. I was constantly in a state of retrospection. That is until I became accustomed to my new room, new school, and new friends. Then the cycle would start again.

Over time I have come to realize and embrace the fact that I’m just a very nostalgic person. And this isn’t a rare trait; nostalgia is running rampant throughout our culture. It’s a centerpiece of ad campaigns, fashion trends, and entertainment franchises. It has had an incredibly powerful influence on the Millennial generation, helping to shape their interests, lifestyle choices, and worldview. …

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“Does anybody actually care about that?”

I’ve found myself saying and thinking this with increased frequency and vigor over the past few months. As a strategist, my job is to distinguish the “insider baseball”, brand-centric, client point of view from the actual realities of the world and the way people live. The prior worldview is often predicated on the false premise that people think about brands with the same rigor and focus that marketers do. As if they see campaigns holistically, think about competitive sets, and always want to “Learn More”… Yeah, no.

On a good day, these two realities don’t quite line up. On a bad day, they’re completely antithetical to one another. This lack of understanding creates a distorted image of your audience and more often than not, leads to work that lacks relevance. …

About

Dylan Phillips

Brand Strategist currently living in San Francisco and probably pretending to enjoy a salad.

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