What can we learn from Cruella?
Cruella is a brand that does not pay for media; Cruella is the news!
Juan Carlos Mallet
(6 minutes) What can we learn from Cruella? A couple of weeks ago, I went back to the cinema and watched a movie that surprised me, not only because it turned out to be a good film but also because I felt like I was attending an extraordinary Marketing class for “challenger” brands. As you know, in each industry, there is a leader, and the rest of the brands are ambitious “challengers” daring to climb the arduous path to the top position. If we take it as a metaphor for the world of people, a challenger brand needs to steal the leader’s partner (its current consumer), break that relationship, and create a new one. This complicated process is precisely what the character of Cruella achieves in her relationship with the Baroness. The film reminded me of the article I published a few weeks ago about Darth Vader (https://www.palmercooperwallace.com/thoughts-and-inspiration/the-world-needs-more-brands-like-darth-vader) since Cruella leverages several “tricks” that are mentioned there. However, what is new about this story is that it shows us a challenger brand in the making and its unique way of going after the leader with no mercy! If you have not yet seen the film, I invite you to stop reading this article, go and see it! — SPOILER ALERT– Find below a list of some of the characteristics I believe are outstanding in this regard: 1. Strategic clarity: Cruella knows that she is a “challenging brand” and acts accordingly by creating high differentiation and depositioning the leader. 2. Congruence: When Cruella decides to accept herself entirely from within and behaves fearless, she becomes an endearing and iconic brand: She uses her bicolor hair to symbolize authenticity, originality, uniqueness, and differentiation. She clearly cannot go unnoticed. 3. Disruption: Not only is the look critical, but the attitude is a crucial factor. Cruella knows this, so her entrances and departures are triumphant (as in the case of Vader), only that Cruella does it most of the time “overshadowing” the leader, the Baroness. Her presence leaves people in awe, so they talk about her, and she always leaves them wanting more! In addition to this, her actions are congruent and consistent with what she sells. Who would have thought of making a glamorous dress with garbage and presenting it in a garbage truck for a performance? Cruella uses this and other tricks to get into the front pages of the newspapers. 4. Anticipation: Cruella represents a challenger brand that is constantly pushing vs. the leader. She is always one or two steps ahead of her rival: She studies the Baroness very carefully, approaching her to learn as much as she can from her, the way she acts, and especially her weak points. Knowing how the Baroness thinks, Cruella always goes ahead (like putting moths in a closet full of clothes), and she is not afraid to break the rules (in a “Black and White” themed party, she wears red). 5. Innovation and memorability: Cruella is constantly present. She is not a “one-hit-wonder” but stays in people’s minds creating various surprising encounters. In addition, she always uses her trademark without repeating herself (offering a concert, for example). She knows how to show that she is extraordinary, to the point of closing on a high note by faking her death. Furthermore, she sends bicolor wigs to particular members of the high society (she knows who can help sell her brand), encouraging them to wear the accessory at the new Baroness’ party, generating a whole fashion movement. 6. Seduction: Cruella understands her target audience, and she delivers what they want while producing a highly seductive impact. She attracts the public and the press by being Cruella: crazy, rebellious, audacious, unexpected; plus, she generates surprise, mystery, desire and always leaves them wanting more. While doing all of this, she ensures that her audience gets a moment to take a photo or video that will undoubtedly become viral. As a good mentor told me once: do not interrupt what people are interested in; become what people are interested in. CRUELLA IS A BRAND THAT DOES NOT PAY FOR MEDIA; CRUELLA IS THE NEWS! 7. Ethics: The only thing we can sometimes criticize about Cruella is her way of doing things. Ethics are a must for all of us responsible for doing good Marketing, and in the long term, good values will ensure a significant increase in brand equity. I love to say that both, at “The Coca-Cola Company,” at “Palmer, Cooper & Wallace,” and among my family and friends, I have been able to work with some “Cruellas” who are conquering the world with revolutionary thinking that is very necessary for the present times. Without a doubt, they, the film, and the character have taught and inspired me with the power of marketing. The “Cruellas” of the world create and display their brands in such an authentic way that if they go to a “black and white” party, they can wear a red dress and break the order proudly. As I finish this article, something tells me that it’s not over yet. Therefore, I want to invite you to send me any other attributes that you would like to add to this list to help me create the second part of this article.
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