New Internationalist

FOK-U: the Façade Of Kindness & Understanding

Issue 413

A seminar in effective leadership (PR & spin) by Peter Greenwall

Objective: To use global issues as political and marketing opportunities. Pulling this off requires the right FOK-U attitude: ignorance is not acceptable, but apathy is: you always need to know what’s going on, but you don’t need to care about it.

‘Hey, just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand.’
Homer Simpson tells Lisa, in ‘Lisa’s Substitute’

Bad parenting! You can think that, but never admit it. Leadership and innovation require professional acting skills to hide the fact that you couldn’t really give a shit. You have to:

act as if you care
Act as if the customer is king.
Act as if nothing is a problem and you’re having a nice day.
Act as if your boss is not a complete asshole.
Act as if your staff /students /citizens are all special.

The only way you stand a chance of achieving this is with the right attitude of: 

FOK-U – the façade of kindness & understanding

Where you only need show that you care, not actually care – SING:

We can make a difference if we find a way to show that we care…
Give love, show love, let them know we care;
We’ll always be there,
We can make a difference if we find a way to show that we care…

How do you show that you care?

  • Provide evidence that you’re acting on behalf of the greater good
  • Be seen caring about world issues
  • Pose like a hero

Learn to pose like a hero
Photo 1: This is a frontal pic that I took of a monkey on the Rock of Gibraltar. Clearly enjoying the attention from tourists, he’s apparently hanging from the edge of the cliff.
Photo 2: This is a side-angle pic of the same poser monkey, revealing that he’s actually standing on a ledge, not clinging on to the edge of the rock.

‘Nobody cares how you pull it off – perception is all that matters.’

FOK-U is based on the human desire to be loved; to feel special. 
Once you understand that customers need to feel special, you can structure your façade accordingly – in other words, you’re no longer General Motors, you’re now Specifically-For-You motors, so your strategy becomes: Our entire operation has been redesigned specifically with you in mind, because you’re different.

Loreal – Because you’re worth it.
HSBC – What’s your point of view?  
Skyteam – Caring more about you.
Curry’s – With you in mind.

So the only way you get people to move in waves, is to treat them like particles.

1) smile for your salary [song]
Whether you’re the boss who needs to show dominance and influence, or whether you’re the part of the staff who needs to act as if you care, the ultimate all-in-one package comes from humouring the system – Smile For Your Salary.

2) get coverage!
the more you get, the more you care
Get TV networks to record evidence of you doing any of the following: shaking hands with leaders or soldiers; visits to hospitals and schools; touching flesh with people in the street; cleaning oil off penguins; kissing sick or underprivileged babies, or, better still, adopting a few from faraway places. If it’s the climate crisis you need to be seen caring about, you and your entourage could be seen trading in your gas guzzlers and private jets for bicycles. Then you could have a camera crew film you cycling around the globe with your climate crisis road show. Yes, it’s a little inconvenient, but at least you’re showing the truth – that the more coverage you get, the more you care.

3) don’t get nasty on evildoers - show nasty
Why waste energy getting angry at evildoers when you only need to show how angry you are. By appearing nasty, you show how much you care. For example:

  • Go on record saying that you’ll ‘smoke ’em out of their holes’.
  • Launch enquiries and be seen firing those responsible for doing bad things, like insider trading, or doing cocaine, especially if she’s the poster girl for all your products.

4) learn your ESPs: Emoticon Stock Phrases
There are times when things happen outside of your control, such as power cuts, system down time, or your chief of police accidentally shooting a few innocent people. While your true feelings are ‘shit happens, let’s move on quickly’, you can’t say that. To show that you care, you’re going to have to consult the library of ESPs – Emoticon Stock Phrases:  

‘We are shocked and deeply concerned’ 
‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims’
‘We condemn this incident in the strongest possible terms’
‘We’re doing everything possible to alleviate the situation’
‘We are looking into this matter as we speak’
‘It’s too soon to comment on that’
‘We take the views of our [audience] very seriously’
‘We profoundly regret any offence that may have been caused’
‘We’re working harder than ever to keep prices down’
‘Your call is important to us, please stay on the line… we’re sorry for the delay’

How sorry is that kind of sorry? Well, if you can’t tell from the tone of voice on the pre-recorded message, then let me try to explain it another way. You know when you’re playing tennis and your ball hits the top of the net and drops over, and you raise your hand as a gesture of apology? It’s that kind of sorry: the official for-the-record kind of sorry. 

MARKETING FOK-UShtiX

  • Showing that you care doesn’t just make political sense: it makes marketing sense as well. 
  • Let’s see how you can use the FOK-U attitude as a marketing strategy to turn global problems into opportunities:  

5) use FABOLs: Fashionable Adjectives Based On Lifestyle
Why add value when all you need is an adjective? 
The climate crisis presents a crisatunity to show your green credentials:

Fairtrade coffee, dolphin-friendly tuna, pesticide-free beef, eco-friendly holiday resorts, organic coke, biodegradable carrier bags, anti-birdflu chicken burgers (now with Tamiflu6 and Omega3).

Now keep going. Slap on the same FABOL for whatever you’re trying to sell – dolphin-friendly cars, eco-friendly movies, organic cellphones, biodegradable computers, carbon neutral TV, fairtrade perfume, fairtrade lesbian pornography where all actresses were paid a minimum of $1,000 per scene. Laugh all you like – some of these are already happening! Can you figure out which ones?

6) be seen throwing money at the problem
When it comes to global problems, history has shown that throwing money at the problem never works – all the problems we used to have, we still have. However: Implying that you’re throwing money at the problem always works.

If you have an ethical problem with this, then go ahead and actually donate a small portion of the proceeds to fighting the cause, because 10 cents out of every $4.49 cup of fairtrade coffee is not going to kill you.

  • What to do about AIDS? ‘Buy the new Red RotaMola phone’ – we’re throwing money at the problem.
  • Racism? Bungee jump against racism’ – money from sales goes to race relations.
  • Poverty? ‘Fight Poverty’ T-Shirts – 10 per cent of sales goes to their cause.
  • How do we protect wildlife and animals from extinction? Buy the Sundaypendent – 40 cents from every copy goes to protecting flora and fauna. 

How many animals and plants have we managed to save from extinction before? That’s not the point. The polar bears are just adorable, so we have to save them. If mosquitoes were ever threatened with extinction, we wouldn’t bother. This leads to a movie idea to save the endangered animals:

Movie / Cartoon  ‘LIVESTOCK’ – rock concert organized by endangered animals to say ‘thanks for trying to save us’ and ‘thanks for going vegan’.

What do we do about global warming? Pay your Carbon Offset Tax when travelling anywhere and pay your Personal Ozone Offset Tax (POO TAX) for guilt-free farting. 

All of these are win-win solutions because, as a company, the perception is you care, while at the same time your consumers feel they’re doing their bit to save the planet. And together we all pay our:

ASOWL TAX: Altruistic Sense Of Well-being & Love Tax
Paying your ASOWL Tax is the only way to provide evidence that you care about world problems. As a leader, you already know that the larger and more successful you are, the more damaging are the rumours currently in circulation. Here are a few methods by which you can redeem yourself:

7) promote an image of health & fitness  

8) raise awareness with a rock concert
Nothing beats the feeling that you’re doing the right thing and having fun at the same time.
What kind of fun? Concession stand fun. Poverty, famine, AIDS, climate crisis – there isn’t a problem in the world that live music and shopping can’t solve.

Rock concerts do their job – they raise awareness, so much so that there are no more issues we’re not aware of. The T-shirt says: LiveAid R  Live8 R  LiveEarth R
I’m aware and I care

Actually there are quite a few more problems we could raise awareness about, like the global CASH crisis (Corruption, Stupidity & Hypocrisy). Buy this T-Shirt, which will say: 
LiveCorruption R  LiveStupidity R  LiveHypocrisy R 
I’m aware and I care

9) sponsor world peace events
Get your name attached to an event that’s promoting world peace, like a beauty pageant. You’ll need a video montage of the girls feeding starving children over ‘Heal the World’. If you can’t afford the rights, then you’ll need to have something specially composed. It should have a chorus that includes native kids lip-synching to the song.

10) use ‘Improper use’ warning labels
Double whammies! Not only are you seen to be acting responsibly, you’re also giving your target market ideas they might have missed had there been no warning at all. These ideas will make up the bulk of your business:

10. This photocopy machine may not be used for body parts.
9. This Pete Doherty CD may not be used as a cocaine dispenser.
8. This Celine Dion box set may not be used for clay pigeon shooting.
7. Do not use our BB gun to shoot birds or Dick Cheney.
6. Do not use this electric toothbrush for any other purpose.
5. Do not launch fireworks from your backside – the weirdos of Jackass are trained stunt artists.
4. This Superman costume does not enable you to fly.
3. Do not use P2P software to download music for free.
2. The use of Yahoo groups to trade naked pictures of yourself or your ex-girlfriend is strictly forbidden. You may also not use a webcam to show your dick to anyone.
1. You may eat all the fruit in the Garden of Eden except the apple.

The law of Logical Stupidity says you can bank on people doing the exact opposite of your advice, thereby keeping you in business.

Logical Stupidity – innovation by navigating through nonsense
(e-book and print) can be ordered / downloaded from www.Lulu.com
As an appetizer an abridged version can be downloaded for free from www.logicalstupidity.com
A Logical Stupidity musical seminar is now taking bookings for corporate functions, training days and after-dinner entertainment.

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