Much more ballsy

I still remember when MuchMusic launched in '84. My friends and I spent hours glued to the TV set, soaking up every second of the likes of Madonna bopping around to 'Like A Virgin,' much to our parents' chagrin.

I still remember when MuchMusic launched in ’84. My friends and I spent hours glued to the TV set, soaking up every second of the likes of Madonna bopping around to ‘Like A Virgin,’ much to our parents’ chagrin.

Since then, the brand has grown up to be much more than just a music video channel. Not to mention, more than just a brand. Always edgy, Much has successfully carved out space for itself in the pop culture stratosphere. So, you may be wondering, why give the CHUM-owned property top brand status in 2005?

There are many reasons – and you can read all about them on page 37 – but mainly, when it comes to new forms of marketing, you’d be hard-pressed to find a brand more brave.

Consider that while most marketers have been wary of any new digital media space, Much seems to believe that being first is better – whether it’s mobisodes of programs like Ed the Sock, content that encourages SMS interaction with its PunchMuch channel, or its involvement in the virtual hangout Habbo Hotel.

Essentially, the property has cleared the path for the rest of you. In fact, back in May, while researching a story on next gen marketing, I found that most forward-thinking brands engaged in mobile activity were partnering with none other than Much. The industry as a whole should thank the brand for its ballsy attitude.

But Much doesn’t entirely stand alone. Each of our Brand of the Year winners are so because they challenge conventions vigorously. Dove has transformed itself into a social activist that criticizes the very category it was born into – crazy! Tim Hortons dared to grow beyond its doughnut-and-coffee roots to take on McDonald’s and other QSR chains, while still maintaining its hokey, homegrown image. Couche-Tard has done similarly on the convenience store scene, and at the same time it has been unapologetic for grossing out most of the world in order to resonate with youth. (Bloody Zit Froster, anyone?)

And quirky, regional airline WestJet is now taking on Air Canada. The company is going about it brilliantly too, by positioning itself as the customer-friendly choice, a promise it can actually stand behind, thanks in part to its internal efforts to motivate employees. That ain’t easy to do.

Speaking of which, this issue’s biz feature, which starts on page 11, looks at the challenges marketers face in delivering on customer experience pledges. We all know that while a brand may present smiley, shiny customer service reps in a commercial, in real life, one could easily come into contact with grumpy, abrupt, or just plain aloof ground-floor personnel. So some smart big-name Canadian brands are working hard to avoid that by better aligning with customer care divisions inside their mammoth organizations.

Hopefully this issue will inspire you to rally the troops behind your brand. Because, while ballsy behaviour is good, backing it up at every touchpoint is gold.

Lisa D’Innocenzo, Editor