Last week’s news that brand icon Mr. Clean is growing his first mustache to raise awareness of men’s health issues caught my eye on a few levels. My first thought: What does Mrs. Clean think of this? My wife always bristles at my seasonal winter beard, waking me with razor in hand on the first morning of spring. At least Mr. Clean is letting his fur fly for a good cause to support the Movember movement – I just do it for the natural cold-weather face mask. And just to look more bad ass. OK fine, I do it to razz my wife.
But I digress. What does this have to do with PR?
If you think about it, the good folks at ol’ Mr. Clean are really screwing with a sacred cow. Whoever walked into the CEO’s office with this stache idea definitely had some cojones. I imagine it went something like this: “Say boss, you know that iconic image we’ve been carefully cultivating over the last 70 years? Well, wouldn’t it just be a hoot if we suddenly drew a funny mustache on him? Great idea, right?” There are two likely outcomes here: Either a nice big pat on the back and a spot bonus or a security escort out of the building.
But it turns out Mr. Clean is actually a pretty popular social media figure. He’s got over 170,000 followers on Facebook. What I like is how his voice comes off as just another regular guy. To wit: “A lot of people are wondering if Movember is cleaning related. Well, it means fewer hairs clogging up the sink, so there’s that.” 138 people ‘liked’ that one stupid status update. I had no idea people could be so passionate about fake cleaning solvent salesmen.
So why is Mr. Clean’s mustache mojo resonating? I think it’s because his voice is just inherently human. We as communications professionals tend to mutate into our stiff-as-nails, take-no-chances, please-the-man professional voices the minute we march through the office doors every morning. We effectively lock away our inner Mr. Clean for the day.
But your human voice is dying to come out and play in your day job. Why not humor it a little? Fear of repercussions? Perhaps. More likely fear of change. It’s always the way we’ve done things, and our jobs are deadly serious business.
And that’s why 67.3% of the content companies churn out every day still kinda sucks. (Don’t quote me on that, I just kind of made that up.) The Cluetrain Manifesto came out over a dozen years ago, and yet company XYZ is still excited/thrilled/happy-as-pie to announce the release of widget 5.3.
We need to be more human with our content. Or at least as human as the audience we are trying to specifically reach. Let your inner Mr. Clean freak flag fly, take some swings, be ok with the misses and don’t be afraid of yourself and your own thoughts.
And who knows, perhaps you’ll find just a bit more joy in your work. I just wrote a corporate blog post that defaced five corporate icons and included the words ‘screws,’ ‘cojones,’ ‘ass’ and ‘sucks’ in it, and it was kind of liberating. More importantly, I’d like to think I made a salient point at the same time. So experiment with a little Snap, Crackle and Pop in your content creation next time in whatever form it may take and see what happens.
As for me, I’m looking over my shoulder hoping security doesn’t show up, just in case.