Cultural touchstones

by John Cloonan | Dec 27, 2021 | Blog, Marketing & Branding, New Ideas

I don’t watch the Super Bowl. Your reaction may be similar to the one from the guy in the gym this morning who asked me what I thought of the game. At that point, I didn’t even know who won. He was dumbfounded. “Who doesn’t watch the Super Bowl?” 

I’ve never been interested in sports other than motorcycle racing, and even then, I’ve only been interested in motorcycle racing because of my participation in it. I like to do stuff. And honestly, I only like to watch people do stuff that I do at a level I can’t ever reach. So I’ve never been interested in football, or baseball, or basketball. Not that I could reach the level of those players, but I’ve never been interested in doing what they do.  

Sports, in America, is a cultural touchstone, one of those things that seems universal. Another is watching television, which is another thing that stopped being interesting to me in my 20s. We don’t own a TV and had eliminated cable service from our lives long before it was common. I don’t like to go to the movies, either. Another is drinking, which I don’t do anymore, either. You might imagine that this makes small talk difficult for me, since I can’t talk about last night’s game, the movie we just saw, my favorite TV shows, or the party this past weekend where I got wasted. If you imagine that, you’re right. You also might think that this might make me a bad marketer. I’m out of touch with popular culture, since I don’t participate in the vast majority of it. In that, you’d be wrong.  

Why? Because I’m an observer. I see what happens in the culture. I know what’s popular because I hear about it. I know the hot movies because I see the reviews and the returns. My observer status does one other thing for me — I remain objective. I don’t generally get caught in a fad. I work from the data and analysis about what’s happening in the culture. My lack of participation, while it does tend to make me socially a bit awkward, actually makes me better at what I do because I’m forced to act from evidence, not the anecdote of my personal experience.  

Marketing Guy & Strategic Polymath | Website | + posts

John’s the founder of Audacity Marketing. When he’s not racing motorcycles, he’s building marketing strategies for Audacity clients and anyone else who’ll listen.

John’s worn all the marketing hats, from consultant to agency owner to executive to university professor. He’s held leadership roles in industries from staffing to behavioral health to capital-C consulting. He’s branded or rebranded over 100 companies.

John buttresses 25+ years in marketing with an MBA from Georgia State University.

John lives with his girlfriend Suzanne, his dog Seamus, and his daughter Annie when she shows up from college.