IF YOU DON’T STAND FOR SOMETHING, YOU’LL FALL FOR ANYTHING
I watched with great interest the response to the new Nike campaign featuring the controversial football player, Colin Kaepernick. Regardless of your opinion on Kaepernick or the movement that he started, you have to admire the guts that Nike showed in running this ad. It brought to mind a blog post I wrote in June that described my own existential crisis with the Bloomers Island brand.
Bloomers Island is a brand that promotes a healthy lifestyle in children. I am in the lucky position of promoting a message that every parent can agree on. Who doesn’t want healthier kids? I’m still always careful however, as the social media marketer in my company, not to upset any group.
A friend of mine on social media recently shared a meme posted by their local Farmers’ Market condemning pollution from the oil industry and promoting clean water. Again, I think we can all agree that clean water is a good thing, but this friend and this Farmers’ Market was in a state in the heart of the oil and gas industry. I imagined that a lot of their customers were employed either directly or indirectly by oil and gas companies. The comments on my friend’s post supported this, with grousing about the tone deafness of the meme, and saying that they were not going to go to the market anymore. I’m not sure if I would have taken that General Custer’s stand that the Farmers’ Market took, but I admired their guts. It brought to mind that old saying, “If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
What am I taking a “stand” on?
When my first book came out, “Bloomers Island, The Great Garden Party,” it was turned down by a major supplier of school book fairs. I was told something to the effect that kids weren’t interested in being healthy or gardening and therefore would be less likely to buy my book at the book fairs (where the decision was mostly theirs and not their parents). I was disappointed because that meant I would miss out on a huge market segment. My CMO and I went back and forth about the notion of not bringing up the concept of gardening at all and just talking about my characters, the Bloomers.
It is understandable that some think gardening might not be particularly popular with kids who haven’t tried it or the grownups in their lives because they are intimidated by it. If I had a nickel for every time an adult says to me that everything they try to grow dies, I would be a rich woman. There is so much more to my brand anyway, like the Bloomers characters. They are adorable and struggle with the same issues that real-life children do. They live on Bloomers Island a place far away in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that no boy or girl has ever seen. Evolution took a different turn on Bloomers Island and plants became the intelligent species. The Bloomers go to boarding school in a tree house! They sleep in flowerbeds, have leaves for hands and roots for feet. They are plants and flowers and trees.
My argument remained that the whole reason of my brand, its raison d’etre, was to encourage kids to garden and eat vegetables. If I was not going to put that concept front and center, what was the point? Besides, I know that kids love digging in the dirt and planting seeds and watching things grow. I’ve seen their enthusiasm over and over, working with thousands of children. I just have to keep pushing that message out there, reminding parents of this fact.
Back to my “stand.” I decided that what I am taking a stand on is to stay true to my mission even if it’s not as popular as dinosaurs or space travel or princesses. While I can certainly place an emphasis on the Bloomers characters, I cannot ignore the main mission of my brand. Otherwise, before I know it, I will be selling GMO seeds, printing my catalogs on paper that hasn’t been recycled, and I don’t know, praising the virtues of chemical fertilizers. If I don’t stand for this something, I may just fall for anything.
P.S. I found another bookseller that sells at school fairs, and they are happy to include the Bloomers Island books. Yay!
What do you stand for?