You And I We’re Not So Different…

You and I are not so different.

It’s a trope you’ve probably heard a million times coming from the mouths of supervillains who have their prey right where they want them. Whether it’s in movies, comics or TV shows it’s always the same. Great supervillains know themselves, and even moreso they know the world they are trying to conquer. A piece of the Socratic Method called aporia is one of the most powerful tools in a supervillian’s arsenal. Often utilized in debates, aporia is a method, where the speaker creates perplexity in someone whose mind appears to be made up on an issue, thus creating an opening through alignment and doubt. You and I were not so different is a perfect example of a villain creating aporia. On the surface, the person on the opposing end of the conversation would instantly reject this allegation. MY POV HAS NOTHING IN COMMON WITH YOURS. WE ARE DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSED ON THIS ISSUE. In most cases, the differences would be so vast that the attempt to draw similarities would seem laughable, such as a criminal telling a bastion of justice that they are indeed “NOT SO DIFFERENT.” The Joker and Batman are a prime example. The Joker does not care about the usual things supervillains care about, money, fame, and power. To quote him exactly “This town deserves a better class of criminal and I’m going to give it to them.” The Joker’s sole goal, his crowning achievement, would be to show the world that the incorruptible, (Batman) is indeed able to be corrupted. The Joker is willing to let Batman kill him, pitting Batman against his prime directive: I WILL NOT KILL. If the morally incorruptible Batman can be turned then any one of us are also prey. The Joker begins his master plan of creating aporia with Batman by pointing out how the law itself, the police with whom Bats has an uneasy alliance, would simply throw him away the second anything went astray. As much as Batman wants to be known as a symbol of justice, deep down he knows this statement from the Joker is true. To them, The Joker exclaims, you’re just a freak… like me. YOU AND I ARE NOT SO DIFFERENT. And so the eternal cat-and-mouse game between the Joker and the bat is propelled forward. Batman stands his moral high ground refusing to kill the Joker, and the Joker causes chaos hoping to push Batman over the edge.

HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO SUPERVILLAIN MARKETING?

Let’s use Planet Fitness a case study. Planet Fitness has over 2500 locations making it one of the largest gym franchises in the world. Let’s make Planet Fitness the Joker in which case, anyone who is averse to gym culture is Batman… it’s antithesis. Planet Fitness, playing the role of the Joker in this example has messaging that deliberately creates uncertainty within those who are gym culture adverse. Aka Batman. “you and I we’re not so different.” We exist because you exist. We get you. Much like a defiant Batman rejecting everything everything the Joker stands for, the gym hater scoffs at such a ridiculous statement. And therein lies the opportunity to create aporia. “We too hate the stereotypical gym culture. ” “We too, just like you don’t like it when people drop ridiculously heavy plates on the ground” “We too hate the feeling of judgmental eyes as we strive for self-improvement.” You, the gym hater and us, Planet Fitness, we’re not so different at all. And the window of doubt in the viewer’s mind opens and open windows are opportunities for sales. Madness doesn’t just exist in the fitness industry, it’s everywhere. Customers who have experienced the worst an industry has to offer.
  • Broken promises
  • Services provided by the lowest common denominator in your field
  • Being ghosted by “professionals” to whom you are trying to give your hard-earned money.
Customers whose battle scars are visible on their bank accounts their businesses and their spirit. The gravity of this situation is that in most cases the madness is created by marketers, average marketers, but you are not an average marketer. You are a marketing supervillain. As a great villain once declared: “Madness is like gravity…. all it needs is a little push”. And that push, for you my loyal viewer, is not about falling into the fray with the other chaotic messaging of the industry. It’s a recipe for frustration and futility to fight the maddening tides created by average marketers. If you fight them you are just bringing more attention to them. Instead, take the madness and shape it to suit your needs. Lean into the madness. Feed it. Give it a little push… This town deserves a better class of marketer… are you going to give it to them? The opportunity to create aporia is everywhere, and once you learn how to identify it you my fellow Marketing Supervillain can wield it to propel your brand into the stratosphere.

Jesse James Wroblewski

Differentiation Consultant

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