THE BLOG

Baby, It's Changing Outside
Dec 17 2018

That song.....that silly, classic song, 'Baby, It's Cold Outside', which was written by Frank Loesser in 1944, has been making headlines the past couple weeks. While it's been recorded by many artists over the decades, the most revered is Dean Martin's take in 1959. It's a classic, and while it's not even technically a Christmas song, it's always been associated with the holidays.

Someone, somewhere, decided to suddenly associate this song with the #MeToo movement, claiming the song is essentially about a guy trying to take advantage of a girl by slipping something into her drink. I won't get into the specifics of the lyrics, or opine on my own interpretation, but it is worth noting that Loesser's daughter, who has been performing the song herself for many years, laughs at the notion that the song promotes rape.

What interests me more is how quickly we're changing as a society, and how technology continues to push us forward. We're being inundated with information at a faster rate than ever before, and our attention spans continue to be fractured by that rapidity. A Twitter hashtag can evolve into a movement in mere hours. Nobody has to react to them, but there's pressure to do so, because the tiny dopamine rush from virtual 'likes' have become so vital to our self worth, it's impossible to ignore.

The lyrics of the song started getting attention several years ago, but it wasn't until this season it got a lot of attention. Mainly because a radio station in San Francisco decided to ban it. On whose behalf? Bay area residents who may or may not be offended? Were they getting calls to preemptively ban it? Unsure. But within a week, they received many complaints about the ban. Indeed, 77 percent of listeners disapproved with the removal of the song. So, they put it back in their playlist.

The ban itself is questionable but then, so is the reversal. The issue, I feel, is that organizations with public-facing products and services have become so indecisive about what stance to take, they simply react to the loudest voice out there. There are similar things happening all over, where a product that has existed for decades suddenly becomes controversial, whether it be a tagline, imagery, or other marketing campaigns.

How many hashtags does it take to kill a product, service, or a career? I'm certainly not suggesting that we ignore feedback from customers. Social media has been a boon for companies looking for quick ROA (Return On Investment) from ad campaigns. But surely, there's a middle ground, where they can proudly present their offering, respond to both positive and negative feedback, and keep doing what they're doing. Right?

This issue has many legs, and I'll tackle more of it another time. Thanks for reading!
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