Tina Fey on Amy Poehler on branding now

Tina Fey has this to say about Amy Poehler:

Amy is funny because she doesn't care what you think, but she does want to make you laugh.  It's a complicated and important combination.

This is perhaps another way of saying that Poehler isn't needy.  She doesn't crave our approval.  And this gives her a certain freedom and confidence.  She's like the cool kid in high school, the one who will take any comedic or social risk because, really, she just doesn't care whether she succeeds or we approve.

Fey's observation is a good way to think about comedians, but I think it's also a nice way to think about branding.  The new brand is self confident in just this way.  It's less agreeable, less eager to please, less unapologetically pleasant.  The old brand was a bland brand.  The new brand is Amy Poehler. 

This perhaps another way of pointing out the death of mass marketing.  And if that's all it is, I apologize.  But I thought Fey's comment was paradoxical in a useful way.  (Fey warns us with the adjective "complicated.")

That we find it complicated and a little paradoxical tells us that we have a long way to go before we are completely comfortable with or ready for the new brand.  The old logic of mass marketing, the one that makes us agreeable at all costs, continues live in our instincts and inclinations.  It remains a kind of cultural stowaway, there in our reflexes.  And will remain so for decades to come. 


Stack, Tim.  2009.  Poehler Express.  Entertainment Weekly. p. 34.  April 10, 2009.  [source for Tina Fey quote]

8 thoughts on “Tina Fey on Amy Poehler on branding now

  1. Tom Asacker

    There it is! I’ve been saying and writing one specific thing for years, but many “marketers” continue to find it confusing:

    “It doesn’t matter what people think about you and your brand. What matters is how you make them feel about themselves and their decisions in your presence.”

    Poehler doesn’t care what you think about her, but she certainly cares about how she makes you “feel” in her presence.

    Thanks Grant.

  2. Henri Weijo

    Douglas Holt had used similar language in his 2002 article “Why do brands cause trouble?”. He said that brands need to be “disinterested”, meaning that brands should not show a profiteering motif to consumers.

    I guess this “rule” could be universally expandable, at least to some degree. We’re definitely drawn to the purpose-driven or “pure at heart” politicians, religious figure, rock band etc. It’s just that for brands, profiteering has become the ulterior motive.

  3. Mike

    Grant (and others): Do you think that this type of brand “attitude” is more effective (and welcome) in times of high market confidence and less effective in times of macroeconomic uncertainty? This wouldn’t explain Poehler, per se, but do you see companies moving away from a “disinterested” brand and toward a more familiar, comforting brand “feel” during times when there is more turmoil and uncertainty in our overall economic future?

    For what it’s worth, I don’t see that as conflicting with any of the above (the blog itself or the two other comments), but more of an extension of the idea…

  4. Tom Asacker

    Hi Mike,

    For what it’s worth, I don’t see the “attitude” per se as what attracts. I see the attitude as the organization’s position that what’s truly important is not the audience’s impression of the brand, but rather the brand’s ability to make the audience feel a certain way about themselves; smart, cool, empowered, etc. Does that make sense?

    So to answer your question, I think being “disinterested” in what people think of you and supremely interested in how your brand can “kindle a light in the darkness of mere being,” (Jung) is important in good times and, especially, in bad.

  5. Domen

    It’s INTERESTing how the word “disinterested” somehow crawled into the debate. I think “disinterested” is precisely what Poehler is not. As argued by Godbout, disinterest should not be confused with a lack of (self)interest. It’s just that her interests are different (as Grant and Tom point out). It’s precisely her refusal to engage into the usual “I’m-pure-hearted-and-altruistically-devoted-to-you” tug for affection and approval. Poehler’s confidence means that she can retain an interest and do what she feels is INTERESTing, while the mass brand strives for the disinterested ideal.

  6. John McCreery

    Consider Apple. There is no sucking up to Macintosh and iPod fans. Instead what we fans enjoy is the repeated “Wow!” when the next insanely great thing comes along.

  7. Debbe Hirata

    Deep within our consciousness, and in our own unique DNA, lies the truest knowing of our selves … a no-bullshit-this-is-who-I-am reality. Those who believe in that reality and act on it become a clear brand which through its truthfulness naturally attracts others, who may or may not be on the same level of truthfulness. The level doesn’t matter. What matters is that something in the truth of you attracts the truth in me and if I am honest with myself by engaging with you or your brand I will come to know a greater truth about me and perhaps my own brand if that is what I choose. It becomes a collective consciousness then, moving toward the truth of the reality we live in and the reality that is ready to unfold before us. It is a process which answers an inner call to discover and engage in truth as it is expressed in the awareness and being of each individual. It is a human drive within, what some would call a “need”, to know the fullness of truth…but a “need” which never shows itself as needy. And it is that confidence contained in the brand that another must trust in order to meaningfully engage it.

Comments are closed.