at the intersection of brands, media and culture

A branded look at the pirate problem

In Branding, communications, strategy on November 20, 2008 at 7:00 am



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“The pirates are coming,” we’ve been told by most of the mainstream news media. And while piracy is a growing problem off the coast of Somalia and they are certainly wrecking havoc within the shipping industry, my sense is that most of us don’t really care. Darfur, yes we care, pirates not yet. And the reason why is that they are actually kind of cool aren’t they?

Culturally, we’ve had a love affair with pirates for decades and they permeate our culture from Long John Silver’s and Jack Sparrow to the Discovery Channel and Disney. Pirates are typically made out to be the better men. Craftier, smoother, living out our dream for adventure, pirates have been positioned as heroes of the high sea. They change the tide and the people they take advantage of tend to be bumbling sailors or British colonials, which as Americans, we don’t really mind. They still pillage, sure, but not so much raping anymore, that wouldn’t make it into a Disney movie.

So the question now is what will it take for the media to breakthrough and make us care about piracy. The answer is that it will probably take a repositioning of the pirates overall. Personally, I might take the easy route and just go ahead and start calling them “raiders”. Sure we have Raiders of the Lost Ark but we also have corporate raiders and the Oakland Raiders and few people feel that those two professions are up to any good.

  1. Living in Tampa Bay I think I know a thing or two when it comes to pirates… or at least I know some of the Rum that they used to drink. Pirates are very cool, we have a city wide day where we celebrate Gasparailla and you’ll see people like Ben and Kate dressed up like Pirates and walking the streets of our city. Pirates are not cool if they increase the price of gas! Pirates are not cool if they make corporate oil CEO’s fly all over the world in their private jets and the tax payers have to bail them out.

  2. Change Kate to Kelly… (sorry Kelly it’s been a long day)

  3. Change your wife to my girlfriend? I’ll talk to her but I’m not sure she’ll go for it…

  4. […] of all there is the continued saga of Peanut Corp of America. This story reminds me of the Somali Pirates in that I just can’t take the whole thing very seriously. It seems like either A) a comic […]

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