According to a story in the WSJ, in China the curious practice of hiring exotic dancers to perform at funerals has escalated to the point where authorities need to clamp down. The intent is to attract a sizable crowd graveside to mourn, as an effort to save face. “Otherwise no one would come,” explained one villager.
Now, I will freely admit there are likely cultural and religious nuances that are sailing well over my head here; but from where I’m sitting this practice misses the point. A crowded funeral hall is a mark of a life that made a difference, that touched others in a meaningful way, a sign that others are moved by the passing and wish to participate in the moment. It is a byproduct. A symptom. A consequence. Not the goal to be chased.
You can not earn a meaningful life by packing people into the funeral parlour so that it is standing room only. The people attending your grave to see the dancing girls are there to see the dancing girls and not to attend your grave. One of the comments I saw tied to this story was, “well, that’s marketing for you.”
But that’s NOT marketing. Only, sadly, in many cases it is.
How many strategy briefs have you come across that amount to little more than a pole dancer in a graveyard? Because many of our performance measures in marketing and public relations focus on the number of eyeballs in the room, it becomes easy to lose sight of what actually matters… the measure of the brand. You can pack the room to the brim but if they are not thinking about your brand in the right way, or even considering the brand at all, then you may as well have nobody there.
What’s the last campaign that crossed your path that undoubtedly packed the room full of eyes but did absolutely nothing of benefit for the brand?