the show: 08-29-06

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(A wind-up moose boy on a scooter approaches the camera. A nearby card says "Brake For Moose - It Could Save Your Life[1] - Hundreds Of Collisions"[2])

(Cut to the outdoors, in an open field. Close up on a trucker hat that says "Hunt for Knowledge"[3].)

(Caption: Mike and Brian)

A guy who isn't Ze, Mike, with smudges of facepaint on his cheek: Good afternoon, sports racers. We're in Ohio.

(He looks back at his friend, Brian, who is juggling four juggling clubs.)

Mikee: Hey, what would you do if you were in Ohio?[4]

(Cut to Ze!)

These kids, right? Whatever happened to getting drunk and playing video games?

And wipe that crap off your face, young man!

The youth!

(Grinning, in a Jersey accent): Youth. Youth. Youth. Youth! Youth!

(Photo of John Mark Karr)

The New York Times reports that DNA tests refute claims by creepy-looking football head John Karr that he was involved in the killing of Jon-Benet Ramsey. County district attorney Mary Lacey asked that the arrest warrant be dismissed, saying no evidence has developed, other than his repeated admissions, to place Mr. Karr at the scene of the crime.

What was this man doing?!

He was trying to leverage popularity by attaching himself to a brand.

Jon-Benet Ramsey's not a brand.

She isn't a brand... but there is a Jon-Benet brand. It's just not one most people would want to associate themselves with.

And it worked! He got a business-class flight out of it, and the overall brand experience now includes his weird head.

(Blank sheeplike look, bleating) FIRST!

What the hell do you mean by brand?

A brand is an emotional aftertaste that's conjured up by, but not necessarily dependent on, a series of experiences.

An emotional aftertaste? That sounds like sissy talk! But every (Max Headroom style stutter) but every but everything has an emotional aftertaste.

Right! And everything's a potential brand!

Think about your grandmother. Feel it?

(Fond, happy little chuckle)

Right, that feeling is your grandma's brand. A bunch of experiences contributed to the making of that brand, like making good cookies. And tucking you in. And chasing you under a table when you called your uncle an alcoholic.

But that emotional aftertaste is no longer dependent on any of those experiences. Unfortunately that emotional aftertaste you feel when you think "grandma" isn't all that successful of a brand.

In order to be successful, a lot of people have to experience something related to the brand. I.e., who the fuck is your grandma? If a lot of people do have those brand experiences, there have to be similarities in the emotional aftertaste they engender.

I hate fuckin' cookies!

The emotional aftertaste also needs to be fluid.

Grandma was a heroin addict?

(Fond smile) Heroin addicts.

Lastly, for a brand to be successful, its emotional aftertaste has to be stronger than the more general brands that are associated with it. Your grandma, unless your grandma is Grandma Moses, isn't as strong as the general brand "grandma." But "grandma" is a stronger brand than the more general brand "old people."

That's why you can sell cookies using the general brand "Grandma's Cookies" but would have a hard time selling "Old People's Cookies."

John Karr, because of a prior incident, had already been associated with the fairly powerful brand "pedophiliac."

Once associated, the emotional aftertaste of that brand is hard to shake. Just ask Michael Jackson.

Maybe Karr thought: if you can't shake it, join it... and he moved to associate himself with the even more powerful brand of Jon-Benet.

But still, why the hell would you want to associate yourself with a bad emotional aftertaste?

Because right now, platforms are fracturing. There are fewer specific places that have access to a large market share.

It's getting harder to speak to lots of people.

But the shared emotional aftertaste of brand is platform-independent. If you leverage those aftertastes, people will pay attention, regardless of where they are. And whether the emotional aftertaste is good or bad is irrelevant! As long as they're watching.

This is Ze Frank, thinking so you don't have to.





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