Polarizing Cupcakes

Hate Bush, get cupcake

I was recently reading about the new Apple Mac Pro computers on digg. What’s most interesting is the reaction Apple gets from any announcement. Apple fans usually love it. Apple haters hate it (go figure). Reading their comments on digg is not for the faint of heart.

Why does Apple alienate these people? All they have to do is make their operating system run on PCs, make their music software play nice with MP3 players other than the iPod and stop those condescending ads. Then what? Then they’ll win everyone over?


Then they’ll be just like everyone else. Conformed.

Apple still follows the philosophy of their early evangelist, Guy Kawasaki. Kawasaki encourages companies to polarize people. When I first saw that in one of Guy’s presentations, I wasn’t sure I agreed. Now, I couldn’t agree more.

Not many companies would advertise free cupcakes for professed Bush haters. Most anyone with “good business sense” would have at least added a second sign:
“Tell us you hate HILLARY and get a free COOKIE!”

But that destroys any semblance of a story. It tells people nothing about our company, except that we ride the fence.

And we fail to realize the fence we’re riding is made of barbed wire.


After an offline conversation with a buddy, Jason, it became clear that I should clarify one thing.  Whatever polarizes people concerning your business needs to be authentic.  By doing so, detractors actually help galvanize your supporters.

Dustin Staiger is a business consultant and speaker in Houston, TX. He addresses team and individual effectiveness, communications, creativity and branding for global corporations as well as non-profits and start-ups.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • http://www.copywritingtoday.wordpress.com C

    Very good point. Businesses have the potential to be the modern day heroes–we need someone with clout to stand up for something so that we can stand behind it. Thanks!

  • http://www.rytril.net/jeans/ Ryan

    That image is just sickening. I think it’s okay to tie politics to marketing, but not this way.

  • http://www.thepeoplebrand.com/blog DUST!N

    I think it’s fine that they market this way. At least now you know not to support them with your patrionage.

  • http://lifepbs.wordpress.com shuchetana

    I loved the image and set it as my desktop background!
    Now you know why polarization works: you guys hate it and talk about it, I love it and talk about. Regardless of whether we hate it or love it, we talk about it. And if you hate it, and tell others that you hate it, they might disagree with you and patronize the place.
    This is an amazing example of polarization at work.
    However, most of us are not likely to take such a big risk and tie it with our business. We’d rather play it safe, and get a few customers. It takes guts to stand out from the rest, and risk being ridiculed.
    Personally, I don’t think I’d ever be so brave as to take such an extreme stand.
    Even though we only talk about those people who do.

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  • http://changesgood.wordpress.com Siddiq

    Dustin the most important point I think is your addendum. Guy point is about polerizing people, and nor should that be what people take away. Its that you need to be authentic and that by being authentic people will be drawn to and repulsed by you and thats ok. Its the authenticity that matters not the polerization.

    Brands want to be cool, they want to be seen as whatever the latest buzz words are. But they never want to be seen as what they are. I HATE BUSH! Its a statement of belief not a brand position. As you note, in a world where brands pretend to agree with whatever they think their intended consumers believes, the brand that actually has the guts to be real is noteworthy. All marketing is hip-hop marketing!

    The picture is a great find.

  • http://changesgood.wordpress.com Siddiq

    Not to beat a dead horse but you have to check out Ze Franks explanation of brands. Very relevant.

  • http://www.thepeoplebrand.com DUST!N

    Thanks for the comments guys. Headed out the door to celebrate our 11th anniversary with my wife. I’ll try to respond after the weekend.

    Have a wonderful labor day weekend!

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/nicalibre Bastian

    I took a picture of the same sign. Most of the about 80 people who commented on it seemed to think it was a great idea, but some also raised questions.


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