Fail with pride

I teach Marketing At Melbourne University on a part time basis. One of the things I try to do is stretch my students thinking beyond the traditional marketing arenas. It seems every week we are going through another consumer goods example, or the car industry and lately social media. This week I tried something different and I had a massive fail.

The task was for students to pick a market dominated by 2 brands, and to discuss the points of partity and difference, and how the brand communications and positioning vary. After the students gave me the expected brands:

Herald Sun vs the Age

Facebook vs Myspace

Coke vs Pepsi

Nike vs Addidas

I thought I”d mix it up and asked the group to discuss Capitalism vs Communism.

In the first instance I had to convince the students they were actually brands, and it didn’t improve much from there. The idea fell on deaf ears. It was so far outside of their expectations on what marketing is (consumer goods, shiny products and TV advertising) that they lost interest. I ended up spending the remaining 45 minutes of the tutorial explaining why they are both brands which are managed exactly the same way corporations manage them. It was meant to be a discussion. I failed.

After the initial disappointment and embarrassment wore off, I was pretty happy with it. I’m glad I tried to stretch the students. I’m glad I tried something different, and maybe next week, their minds will be more open.

Startup blog says: Fail with pride.



  1. Sam Sabey · March 28, 2010

    Funny, I was watching Crocodile Dundee last night, which was filmed in the early 80’s.

    Linda asked Dundee, what do you think of the Arms Race? What do you think of the Nuclear debate? It occurred to me, that those two things were relevant at the times, when most of us generation X’ers were growing up. I recall being terrified of WW3 in as late as year 10 even.

    So to ask the question Communism vs Capitalism probably harks back to this era. Today the question is probably irrelevant, perhaps more relevant now could be Climate change believers vs. Denialism.

    I don’t think this is #fail, one more of relevance.


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  3. Bruno · March 28, 2010

    It’s better to keep in mind that it is brands that mock and emulate traditional (or modern) value systems and not the other way around. Make sure to see the forest not just the trees!;]

  4. lukevdp · March 28, 2010

    Great Idea Steve. I would’ve loved my lecturers to be practical like you and I think it would’ve been an awesome discussion.

    Here’s a related idea – Partisanship in politics – Liberal/Labour. Two distinct brands that have a lot in common, yet fight so hard to be seen as completely different. Definitely managed like corporate brands.

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