Hype machine

Gutter twins, Mark Lanegan, Greg Dulli

Photo taken by http://www.flickr.com/photos/evillorelei/

Last night I saw The Gutter Twins play at Koko. Opinion on the evening varied.

 Person A: A long-time fan of Greg Dulli who had listened to the new tracks many times and participated in online chatter in the lead-up the show. Person A went to the gig with very high expectations and was severely disappointed when the performance didn’t translate to the expectations based around past and current form.

 Person B: A huge – some might say obsessive – fan of both acts who travelled a great distance to be at the show and who is highly immersed in the band’s culture. Person B went in with big expectations and had a brilliant time at the concert.

Person C: A casual fan of previous acts but completely unexposed to Gutter Twins material. Person C went in with no expectations and had a pleasant, if unmemorable, evening.

Why was it that Person A went away so disappointed while Person B was so pleased? They both had similar expectations. But while Person A was knowledgeable, perhaps Person B’s immersion meant that their expectations were more accurate. Person C ended up having a more enjoyable time than Person A, entirely due to lower expectations.*

So hype can have a negative impact. Hype may well get consumers to participate, but if the product or service doesn’t live up to it, then their loyalty has been tested. Person B will still listen to The Gutter Twins, but the reverence for the band has dwindled.

By definition, hype is exaggerated and excessive. In the post-Cluetrain world, information asymmetries should be reduced but rationality does not always overpower emotion. Appealing to rationality by imparting accurate information may be safe, but it is also limiting. Tapping into emotion is the key to success but the stakes are high if the product or service doesn’t deliver.

Hype might work as a tactic but it is not an effective strategy unless there really is a product worthy of all the praise lying beneath the exposition. Which possibly explains why the talk of a Snakes On a Plane sequel has dried up.

sk
*Incidentally, I am Person C

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