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Why is there a joy in the obvious?

By V. Subramaniam (Subbu)

Whenever I need some kind of light reading, which is more often than not, I prefer to read comics. I am a voracious reader of Asterix, Tintin and MAD comics. Even today I raid my wife’s collection of these comics which is almost always up to date. The other day I picked up one from the Asterix series.

I always wonder as to why I am drawn to these comics even though I have read them numerous times?

I am not discovering anything new and the plot follows a predictable sequence of events. In the case of the Asterix series it begins with a crisis in the famous Gaul village, Romans getting bashed up, the pirates having their ship sunk in a skirmish with the heroes and finally not to mention the happy ending with the village feasting on wild boar while Cacofonix is all trussed up. There is a sense of anticipation as I turn the pages every time, anticipation at the inevitable turn of events. I am sure many of you have experienced this.

What is evident from this example is that predictability does not make it any less boring. This holds true for songs, movies, sitcoms anything that has a fan following. All this is a testimony to the fact that there is a sense of joy in the obvious. This applies to brands too. Why do we tend to use the certain brands over and over again even though there may be better ones?

It could be because we seek comfort in the familiar or there is the inertia to change or whatever. Many a times we hazard a guess for this behaviour that turns out to be way off the mark. Predictability is questioned and made to appear as though it is regressive. Actions are undertaken to overcome this and which very often leads to disaster.

I think enduring brands are those that have a strong ‘obvious’ gene and know how to play it well. I have never been able to nail the reason beyond this and neither have I come across a convincing answer from the experts. More importantly, do we really need to know the answer and cloud our minds? I think it is best left to behavioural scientists and their rats. Meanwhile it is best to join my favorite comic character, Captain Haddock, in doing what he does best- cursing and drinking.

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V. Subramaniam (Subbu)

When people ask me what I do, I drop in words like experiment, creative, strategy, technology and intersection. I surely don't know what it means. If you have figured it out, do let me know. I am not complaining though, as I have done some interesting projects for Wipro Technologies and continue to do so for equally interesting clients like Nu Street Technologies, 3dSoc and so on.

In my previous avatar I was an adman, marketing bloke and brand specialist. It so happened that agencies like Ogilvy and JWT were foolish enough to let me handle all kinds of brands - from large ones like Unilever, BP to small local brands. I stumbled into the world of marketing during the internet (dotcom) boom days. If you have reached here, you must be surely curious about me. Why don’t you drop in a line?

**Subbu writes blog regularly at http://www.thefreeunion.blogspot.com.

***Views Expressed here are personal. The writer can be reached at subbu@thefreeunion.com

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