I'm Smart. You're Stupid. | Bruce Turkel

Each Monday morning I look forward to reading my friend and mastermind partner Alan Weiss’ blog posts. This week Alan wrote: “We live in an age of micro-aggressions and polarization… If you voted for the ‘other’ party, you don’t merely have a differing opinion, you’re stupid.”
That same afternoon I was a guest on Richard Quest’s news program on CNN International. Richard and I discussed Proctor & Gamble’s Tide brand and the problem they’re having with their TidePods. Specifically, teenagers are daring each other to bite into the brightly colored pods and swallow the liquid inside. Then they go on YouTube and post videos of themselves foaming at the mouth and vomiting. It’s kind of like today’s digital version of your mom accusing the teenage you of jumping off the roof just because all your friends did it too.

Except in this case kids don’t get banged up or maybe even break a leg. They poison themselves. ABC News says,  “The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported eight deaths related to laundry detergent pod ingestion since these products hit the market in 2012, through mid-2017.”

Richard wanted to know what the proper PR plan would be for effective crises management. My recommendation was not what you might expect to hear from a brand specialist – I suggested that P&G immediately take the product off the shelf. I reasoned that the profits P&G was making from the pods would be dwarfed by the cost of the negative effects of this unfortunate fad. And because of the ubiquitous power of social media, the outcry and backlash could reach far beyond anything Tide could manage.

One of the great things about being on TV these days is you get instant feedback on how you’re doing. All it takes is a quick log on to Twitter to see what people are saying or if they even bother saying anything at all. So when I got off the show I pulled out my phone and checked my Twitter feed. Some viewers agreed with my thoughts. Some did not. And to Alan’s point, a few shared their micro-aggressions.

@ItoKish tweeted: “@BruceTurkel Your idea about TidePods is f<#%ing stupid!”

@TiffanyTillman posted this: “@BruceTurkel You’re an asshole for insinuating that @Tide should remove tidepod from shelves cause idiot teenagers are doing crap.”

It was immediate confirmation that Alan Weiss was right. Just because I presented an opinion @ItoKish and @TiffanyTillman don’t agree with, I am an asshole. Or as Alan wrote (rather more eloquently than those two, I might add): “This pathology is evident daily (online), that great societal mirror… if you disagree with the writer, you must somehow be ‘damaged’… because the writer can’t possibly be wrong or even entertain another point of view.”

Was I insulted by Ito’s opinion or Tiffany’s name calling? Ironically, they did me a favor. By calling me out and calling me an “asshole” they also called additional attention to my TV appearance and my opinion.

I have two main goals when I get on a national news program. I want to build my own brand awareness and I want to position myself as the go-to person when sophisticated clients have serious brand issues. Tiffany’s and Ito’s crude outbursts simply served to spread the word and help people recognize that I have a different way of looking at problems and solutions.

People who already know me have already made up their minds about who I am and what I know. I’m confident that whether or not they also think I’m “f<#%ing stupid” or “an assshole” has little to do with Twitter posts. And people who don’t know me either don’t care whether or not I’m an asshole or they might take an extra minute to click on the CNNi link to see for themselves.

Where could this lead? Again, let’s turn to Alan Weiss:

“You need to have a fascinating conversation with your clients and potential clients. When they realize you’re a thought leader with interesting ways of looking at things they want to keep you around and will find ways to utilize your skills.”

Without it being their intention, Tiffany and the other name callers used the power of profanity to spice up my CNN appearance. Their comments will bring a bit of conflict and controversy to my public persona. And while the metrics are hard to follow, it’s safe to say that more people will view the link now than would have seen it without the outbursts (when I published this blog post, 2,694 people had viewed the clip on LinkedIn alone).

Will these people be potential clients or influencers? Again, it’s hard to say but probably not. But who knows? The whole concept of online virality is based on the energy and actions of people distributing information to people who view it and pass it on and so on and so forth. And who knows where that activity will ultimately lead?

Time will tell. Because clearly, I’m too “f<#%ing stupid!” to know.

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