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Brand World

L’appel du noir

09/03/2015 - par Mark Tungate

McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Oreo… Beaucoup de marques jouent la carte du bonheur. Facile. Mais pas cool, commente Mark Tungate dans sa chronique Brand World cette semaine. Le noir, le mystère sont cool. Regardez l’automobile, de Jaguar à DS, la mode et les cosmétiques, de Diesel à Armani.

I remember attending a conference – in Istanbul, of all places – where one of the speakers had written a book about how to be happy. This struck me as a somewhat dubious goal. Sadness can be inspiring: it brought us the blues and Russian literature. Nonetheless, Adweek recently pointed out that many brands are playing the happiness card right now. The main culprits are Coca-Cola, whose central idea is happiness in a bottle, McDonald’s (“I’m lovin’ it”) and Oreo (“Wonderfilled”). Which kind of suits their bland, family-oriented addictiveness.


But some brands take a more difficult path. Not sadness, exactly. But darkness. And mystery. These brands tend to target older or more masculine audiences. Automobile brands do it very well: I was immediately attracted to Citroën’s new breakaway DS brand, with its positioning “The spirit of avant-garde”. Even its site is sombre and intriguing. In the UK, Jaguar took a similar tack with an ad starring British actors who play villains, like Tom “Loki” Hiddleston (photo). Jag as the car for bad boys: it felt brave and subversive. Motorcycles have a similar appeal: there’s nothing happy about a Ducati. A Ducati would eat happy for breakfast.


Fashion gets the dark side, too. Renzo Rosso named his luxury spin-off brand Diesel Black Gold. Dior’s cheeky unisex perfume is called Eau Noire. Armani has one named Black Code. Tom Ford resurrected Gucci by making it black and slithery. Darkness and mystery are rock and roll: ask everyone from The Who to The XX. And of course Hollywood has always thrived on mystery and ambiguity, even in its marketing. Movie fans love teaser trailers. I don’t need to remind you about Star Wars. Instead let’s go for The Avengers: Age of Ultron. In order to unlock the trailer, fans were forced to tweet about it. When finally revealed, the mini epic turned out to be fast, tough – and surprisingly dark. Happiness is fine. I’m all for it. But as Tony Stark might say, happiness ain’t cool.

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