This is what I saw as I was boarding a Jetstar flight last week. There’s the pilot, perched in the window ledge, cleaning his windscreen with a cloth.
I’ve shown this photo to a few people and it’s interesting what people see.
I see a pilot who doesn’t take himself too seriously, making sure that nothing gets in the way of a good (by which I mean, safe) flight.
My friend sees an example of a shoddily prepared plane and a pilot having to perform embarrassing DIY maintenance just to get it off the ground.
Why do we see it so differently? Very simply because we each see what we expect to see.
I like Jetstar. I’ve flown with them a few times and been impressed each time. So I see the relaxed, down-to-earth attitude I expect to see.
My friend had flown with them once before, in Jetstar’s first couple of days as a fledgling airline experiencing more than its fair share of teething problems. So she sees the slip-shod performance of a second-rate airline that she expects to see.
Which is all very obvious but it does remind me of the conversation I’ve had with clients many times.
As an advertiser, you never start with a clean slate. People always have a view of your brand. And they interpret whatever you do based on that existing view. Even if you’re a new brand people have a view of your category. And they interpret whatever you do based on their expectations of the category.
Which demonstrates what a difficult job being a Marketer really is.
Because those perspectives are so individual and people cling to them so tightly. No one likes to be wrong, so we look for what proves us right. Which makes it perfectly reasonable that a pilot cleaning a windscreen can be both a positive and negative reinforcement for the same brand.
And it also does a pretty good job of demonstrating how hard it is for marketers (and marketing) to change people’s perceptions.