Fear Of A Pony Planet

Let's face it, you've probably heard about My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. If not, you've been missing one of the big new phenomenon on the Internet. Whether you're aware of it or not, I like to take time to explore it, because it tells us a lot about marketing, the Internet, and geekyness.

Yes.  My Little Pony.  The offspring of the merchandise-laden shows and toy lines of the past is hip.  Yes, I'm serious here.

I could go into a detailed analysis of how a remake of a classic merchandise–based cartoon became a hot and hip new thing but that's been done elsewhere: Check KnowYourMeme.com.

Instead let me summarize what I've found:

  • The merchandise-heavy property of the past gets revived, and Lauren Faust, the talented woman behind things like Powerpuff Girls and Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends redoes it.
  • The show is produced with good animation and a good voice cast.
  • Some criticism of it gets the show attention, as does Faust's witty and smart rebuttal.
  • it gets attention on 4chan.
  • It explodes across the internet as it's actually a pretty good show.

This is pretty interesting.  Yet, I am also afraid.  Not that my Christmas gift buying is going to be Ponycentric.  No, there's more.

My fear? Now, or in the future, some not–quite genius in marketing is going to look at this and try to duplicate. Needless to say, he or she will screw it up because they won't “get” just what happened.

Let's be honest, marketing is an odd profession to be in.  It's a mixture of research, psychology, luck, and strategy.  It's not predictable. It is, at times, filled with bullshit – and I know people in marketing who will agree entirely with that statement.  Though maybe they're bullshitting me.

So, let's be honest, would you trust a random marketing team to "get" the new My Little Pony Phenomena?  I wouldn't–with all due respect the people and know the work in marketing. I would dread to see what many marketing teams would do trying to understand 4chan or hip animation or the value of controversy.

I would admittedly be amused to see the disasters they'd probably create, but I'd also feel sad about it.  Kind of.  Anyway, it wouldn't be successful.

Let's be honest–unless you "get" a phenomena, marketing it and promoting it is often a shot in the dark. Sometimes I think many marketing efforts succeed just by outspending and carpet-bombing people mentally – and in the age of the internet that may be harder to do strategically.

This is why geeks like yourself are important.  This is why I want you to think of what you can do in marketing, or working with marketing if you're not in it.  Because you'll "get" it.  You'll understand, instinctively, what happened, what didn't, and how people's minds work – because you're a geek.

If you're in gaming, in media, in publishing, in anything remotely geeky, you're aware of not just your profession, but various geeky trends – since you're out there experiencing them.  You may just be the one to point out good ideas – or at least shoot down bad ones- because you really understand them.

You bought the games, saw the movie, or are watching the ponies.  You know the memes.

Maybe you can help out people in marketing.  For that matter, maybe you've got a good career there . . .

Steven Savage