Bob Hoffman, AKA the Ad Contrarian wrote a storming piece this week about how stupid people in business can’t do too much harm.
That’s because the companies that they work for have already achieved orbit.
That could be the reason why rash, social media driven decisions, no matter how misguided tend not to destroy companies completely.
Take PepsiCo for example.
In 2010 they launched the Pepsi Refresh Project that saw them divert most of their Pepsi advertising budget towards social media, most notably at the expense of their Super Bowl ad spot.
The project was an unrivalled failure and was clearly the product of a stupid person.
Despite losing some ground (-5% market share), things aren’t too bad for PepsiCo, they are still selling pop.
Despite making a decision that would have killed a lesser brand, consumers are on the whole oblivious to any change.
That’s because PepsiCo is in orbit.
As Hoffman explains:
“With enough energy, a satellite will escape the gravitational pull of earth and will achieve orbit. Once it achieves orbit, it operates on its own. It will circle under its own power for years. And the only way to knock it down is to get in its way.”
Businesses are the same.
PepsiCo and the brand Pepsi has so much history, so much advertising success and the weight of so many customers that they have achieved orbit.
PepsiCo has broken free from the gravitational pull of the world and has been orbiting for a long time.
It would take something catastrophic to take it down.
The governments of the world banning brown fizzy drinks would probably do some damage.
A stupid marketing executive isn’t that powerful though.
They can redirect the entire marketing budget to social media for a year and not worry too much about destroying the company.
So next time you see a big company do something rash, don’t just assume that it is a good idea because a big company ‘wouldn’t just do something stupid without having good research’.
Chances are it is a bad idea, just not bad enough to knock them out of orbit.