This is not to reach any conclusions.This is an attempt to connect some seemingly unrelated dots-to raise a few questions to ponder over.
Wall E-the hugely succesful 2008 animated science fiction movie won multiple awards across the globe.The story essentially follows a cute robot named WALL-E(Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class), who is designed to clean up a waste-covered Earth far in the future.One curious aspect of the movie is the concept of the Earth being governed by the Buy n Large megacorporation (BnL),causing mass consumerism and covering the planet in trash by 2105.
In an attempt to resolve the situation,Earth’s population was evacuated on fully automated luxury BnL starliners for five years while an army of trash compactor robots called WALL-E’s were left behind to clean up the planet.
Cut to the synergistic story of the two of the most dissimilar organisations on the planet-Virgin and Google.Ever heard of Virgle?(http://www.google.com/virgle/) You better do,for chances are,a few decades in the future you might be in the belly of a container being sent to our un(?)-friendly neighbourhood red planet as the Plan B to secure humanity’s future.Didn’t get that?Fair enough-the official invitation from the website is reproduced below:
Earth has issues, and it’s time humanity got started on a Plan B. So, starting in 2014, Virgin founder
Richard Branson and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will be leading hundreds of users on one of the grandest adventures in human history: Project Virgle, the first permanent human colony on Mars.
Cool.But how do the two ideas relate?For a marketer,or to be very specific a brand manager-it most certainly does.Ask any marketer/brand manager-what his/her greatest fear is.The most likely response would be- commoditization-the death of branding altogether.In organizational context,all products of all SKUs/flavours will be sold by the ‘single corporation.’ To put simply,imagine your shopping experience as a consumer,when a soap is just a cube marked a ‘soap’- no Lifebuoys,no Doves,no Lux and so on.Or for that matter,to satisfy your need of buying your own means
of transportation-you buy a swanky car-yeah,just a ‘car’-Mercedes?BMW?Audi?Volkswagen?What’s that Hebrew?And the same organization will sell you the car and the soap-depending on your need.
If that was scary,think of this next step,which,going by the eerie subtle warning in the movie Wall E is a distant,but highly probable situation.Owing to the extreme convenience given to the human race by Buy n Large(the only corporation),the Humans end up as ‘human gels’-a supremely obese,lazy clan-the effects of atrophy and prolonged weightlessness.All the actions in their day are involuntary,chosen by the BnL corporation’s robots-sent to maximise his convenience and ‘choice’-as if he has one.
I leave you with these 2 thoughts-the climate changes and the population explosion-will they force us to take shelter under some such Virgle mission to inhabit another planet?And what is the future of marketing and branding in a future ruled by commodities and only a few all-pervasive organizations?
As for me-I am on the lookout for my own Wall-E. Trash or no trash.