Karaoke or character?

‘Mama, just killed a man. 
Put a gun against his head, 
Pulled my trigger, now he’s dead. 
Mama, life had just begun, 
But now I’ve gone and thrown it all away. 
Mama, ooo 
Didn’t mean to make you cry, 
If I’m not back again this time tomorrow. 
Carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters.’

–– Bohemian Rhapsody: Queen

The last evening of my fourteen-day course has arrived. This annual course ends every year with a visit to theé karaoke bar of Brussels. This year is no exception. We stroll towards Boulevard Anspach where O’Reillys karaoke bar awaits us. Expectantly, twenty Dutch trainees enter the karaoke bar. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody pops out of the speakers after our entry. The number 1 of the karaoke top-2000 immediately challenges us to sing along. The longer the evening goes on and the more often the song is repeated, the more hideous the sing-along sounds. It became an unforgettable evening.

The difference between an artist's performance and a visitor's performance is life-changing. In the case of the original or even a well-crafted cover, an artist creates something new from his character. That is not what karaoke is about. Karaoke is a musical form that involves the appropriation of another person's song without the necessary skills such as rhythm and pure singing. The lack of originality and quality makes repeated listening to a karaoke song an outright punishment in the long run.

Within the current marketing domain, karaoke is enjoying a visible rise. For example, the number of supermarkets with a Christmas commercial has increased again this year. Some Christmas commercials are even sweeter and more melancholy than others. It's not just supermarkets doing karaoke. It is spreading like an oil slick through all industries. Health insurance companies are also shamelessly copying each other. They all offer something in the area of a healthy lifestyle. ASR with Vitality, Menzis with Leefkracht, CZ with Fitzme, basically all health insurers tumble over each other with the same message. Whatever is successful with the competitor is immediately copied. Risk aversion is the main reason why companies copy each other.

Launching a new product or advertising campaign always brings uncertainty. Will it be successful? Or will it turn into a failure? The threat of losing control makes us behave more cautiously. This is because our brain weighs a possible loss much more heavily than the ambition of winning. In such’a situation, the brain prefers to steer us toward a safe area, also called our comfort zone. And now let our comfort zone be an incubator place for vulnerable karaoke brands. There is no place there for original character brands. We must travel on for much-needed originality to the next destination, the learning zone. This is the area where the magic happens, the breeding ground for success. Staying bivouacked in the safe comfort zone does not challenge and only leads to obsolete karaoke brands. And that is a missed opportunity.

Ruud Olijve

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