CHALLENGER BRANDS: WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM CRUELLA? (PART 2)
A challenger brand must always stay hungry and create opportunities to stand out.
Juan Carlos Mallet
A lot has happened since we published "What can we learn from Cruella? (part 1)". At Palmer, Cooper & Wallace, we have received some incredible messages and phone calls. We have closed a couple of deals with "challenger" brands to help them go after the leader with powerful propositions. With all of this additional inspiration, we dared to write a complementary part using other learnings that any challenger brand can start using to make a difference. Find the continued list from part one below: 8. Hunger: A challenger brand must always stay "hungry" and create opportunities to stand out. Cruella reads the context and the competition finding opportunities to generate a HIGH IMPACT in the film, stand out and differentiate. 9. Resilience: This characteristic links directly to the "hunger," still it is the engine that pushes forward; it is the voice that keeps telling you: "focus, don't stop now, keep going, you can do it"; it’s the passion of the one that falls and keeps standing up not just once but a 1,000 times. Resilience is a crucial characteristic that Cruella shows throughout the whole film. She sorts out tremendous obstacles starting from when she was a child and then managing to land the jobs she desired, finally becoming an icon, showing us that you can conquer any challenge with focus, talent, and hard work. 10. Fearless self-confidence: We live in an age where we constantly receive millions of stimuli per hour. Challenger brands should always be able to push us out of our comfort zone. They need to make us question ourselves if we are making the right decision by choosing the brand we always do or if it's time to venture ourselves into a new brand (seduction power at its finest). Cruella's undoubtful self-confidence makes people start noticing that a challenger is here to stay. 11. Unleash the power of emotions: Cruella is extreme. She plays in the edges of love and hate. She leverages the power of mystery, intrigue, and euphoria, and these emotions work wonders on her target customers since they are congruent with her "soul, personality, and body," driving differentiation and clear purpose. In addition to all that we can learn from Cruella as a brand/character, there are several points that I believe are relevant about the film and that can also help us build a strong "challenger brand strategy." I. Leverage your communication on relevant values of your era: In this film, we can find at least three strong values from our time, which work beautifully in conquering us as customers: I.A Empathy and inclusion: A fundamental value where we all should be accepting and learn from others, starting from ourselves. Joker (2019) is solid proof of how people can empathize even with iconic, timeless villains when they listen to their side of their story. The same happened with Cruella. And it is the "story never told" of the apparent protagonists which makes us stand in the shoes of the misfits. Additionally, Cruella embraces her "differences": leveraging her bicolor hair as her key differentiation element. The film also shows us people from different races and genders bonding and making the story way stronger. I.B Female empowerment: The film tells the story of two women with strong character, bright leaders, that admire and support each other to grow, until... other elements come in to play. It is undoubtedly clear that in this universe, they play the leading roles. The new generations have been quite vocal in pushing for gender and race equality rights, which is used throughout the film. I.C Animal Conscience: yes, dogs have always been the "(wo)man's best friend," but what about "stray dogs"? This is quite a new value, in which a part of the society is changing their habit of "buying" dogs into "adopting." The "101 Dalmatians" film from 1996 caused an overselling of this breed which ended in a high rate of abandonments, quite a problem. Now, in turn, the film shows us a couple of stray heroes, "Wink & Buddy," the last one being a confirmed case of adoption from the street. The film then creates an "animal conscience," showing us that if the dogs' are aggressive, it is the fault of their owner who treated them and trained them in that way. In return, if they find love, they become faithful, loving. I love the idea of more people adopting; I proudly share that in my family, we have adopted "Cuca," a very thankful and loving stray dog that has filled our lives with happiness! II. Show the world that you have "Big and Powerful Friends: The film is visually masterful thanks to references of Chanel, Dior, and Balenciaga, which brings an additional glamour touch. In addition to this, the film has a terrifically well-curated soundtrack filled with 70's nostalgia and proven hits. Disney shows us that it has powerful friends such as The Rolling Stones, The Bee Gees, and Nancy Sinatra (amongst others). As I am writing this article, the film's soundtrack has already been a massive success. Last but not least, allow me to share an example from the “brand's world” where we can see some of the points made earlier: Let's review the case of HBO Max and Disney+, who have entered as challenger brands into Netflix's territory. We can see two fearless iconic brands generating solid emotions with their audience (each one with a clearly defined "Soul," "Personality," and "Body"). They are not only coming to join the challenge, but they are also here to win, leveraging strong values while showing the world their friends' power: with Disney leveraging "Mickey Mouse," "Darth Vader," "The Avengers," all the way up to "Cruella." At the same time, HBO Max uses "The Justice League," "Game of Thrones," and even "Bugs Bunny." Let's heat some popcorn and enjoy this extraordinary battle! Finally, I want to thank everyone that has shared and added their comments to part 1 of this article. Still, I want to make a special shout out to Doly Mallet, Rigoberto Chavez, Connie Ansaldi, Sarah Clayton, Flor Aprile, Felipe Davila, and Dieter Davila, for their valuable points and/or additional support to drive the reach of these words. I also want to thank Walt Disney Studios for producing high-quality content which we can use to learn! Do you own or manage a challenger brand and want to create an impact like Cruella? At Palmer, Cooper, & Wallace, we believe that successful brands are born with a clear soul, have a defined personality, evoke emotions, appeal to the senses, and are able to challenge the status quo.
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