The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Insight Should Be About The Culture, Not [Just] The Category …
January 21, 2014, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

Remember yesterday’s blogpost about cycling in China?

The one with the ridiculous GoPro video of that guy doing a back flip on his bike?


Jesus, it was only yesterday, maybe you should go to the Doctor to get that looked at.

Anyway, ever since GoPro became a billion dollar company, there have been countless competitors trying to get a slice of the market.

Many are very, very good … however there’s a reason why people are still buying more of the original than the lower cost alternative and that is the fact GoPro speak to your inner daredevil whereas the competition speak blandly about ‘capturing life’ – which sounds awfully like z-grade Kodak to me.

Of course there’s other reasons – from the level of accessories that you can get for GoPro [including a remote controlled drone!!!] right through to the community they have built through their site – but let’s park that for the sake of this post.

Please? Thanks.

Anyway, to prove the point that you might not agree/care about, here’s a GoPro ad:

Look at it …

Even if you’re not a skier, that photo makes you feel ‘in the action’.

Literally in it.

You can feel the snow, the cold, the speed of the World rushing past you.

Then there’s that line, ‘Be A Hero’.


Even if the most extreme thing you do is make a cup of tea during the interval of your favourite TV show [even though media people tell me no one watches telly any more. Ever] it makes you feel you are – or could be – doing something of untold bravery … something others would watch in awe as they view it from your perspective.

It’s a great line, a great, great, great line.

Now compare that to the competition …

Look at those photos.

Not one of them makes you feel ‘you’re in the moment’. Hell, they all look like they were photographed by someone on their iPhone standing at the side.

There’s no drama, emotion, sense of exhilaration or – dare I say it – danger.

It’s what a company who doesn’t really ‘understand’ their audience – or even the role of their product – makes for an ad.

Then there’s their line.

‘Life. Camera. Action.’

Jesus Christ, how bad is that.

I know it’s a play on ‘lights, camera, action’, but it’s shit.

It’s another one of those ads that talks at you, not too you.

I get they’re trying to make it sound like you can be the ‘star of your own movie’ … but the problem is they are telling you what to feel rather than just making you feel it.

And that’s one of the reasons why GoPro so good.

Sure, they have the product, the infrastructure, the distribution and the community … but you feel GoPro was created by people who live and love this life rather than just be another faceless corporation who produced a product because they wanted to get a slice of the ‘live action’ video market.

So while I appreciate no company wants to be inauthentic, an important thing to remember is that sometimes the biggest advantage you can have over the competition is not what you do, but why you do it.

The culture, not the category.

The emotion, not the technical.

The feeling, not the reasoning.

Which basically is a massive justification for why I bought a GoPro, even though the most extreme video I’ve made so far is this:

55 Comments so far
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This is a great post Rob with a great articulation on what GoPro are doing better than their competitors with their communication.

I also like the way you define authenticity as being “why” a company creates their products rather than what their advertising and products claim to do.

Then there is your point about great ads creating a natural resonance with their audience rather than articulating what/how people should feel when engaging with the ad.

There’s so much in here to think about with the except of your GoPro debut. But on the positive, Rosie looks cute, Jill looks well, your home looks nice and it was still much better than any Steven Segal movie.

Comment by Pete

read my comment below pete. that will wipe the planner praise right off your fucking face.

Comment by andy@cynic

Thanks Pete. I don’t know if you agree with my assessment of what makes a company ‘authentic’, but I think GoPro highlight what it really means because no one actively wants to be inauthentic and yet it can come out in how they behave, whether they are conscious of it or not.

Comment by Rob

Yesterday you show a film of a guy pulling a 360 back flip on his gopro. Today you show a film of you walking quickly towards your cat and wife. You’ve got the x games guys shitting themselves. Best laugh of the week and it’s only monday.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Glad I was able to put a smile on your miserable face. I’m basically a Saint. That’s what I’m going to kid myself with anyway.

Comment by Rob

Did you buy a gopro to capture those dangerous briefs you write? Where have you put it? Tell me you’re wearing it on a helmet. Please, tell me that’s where it’s sitting.

Comment by Billy Whizz

2/1 its on his fucking midlife crisis bicycle even though he does less fucking offroading than some manhattan madam on a school run in her range rover.

Comment by andy@cynic

The camera is moving far too quickly for that.

Comment by John

And why no backflip out of the window?

Comment by John

hes trying to replicate tony scotts directing style. makes me want to jump off a bridge too.

Comment by andy@cynic

Red card. Funny, but still a red card.

Comment by Rob

you can say what the fuck you like about gopros competitors being shit, they arent going to suffer the brand image fail when they find out their community has been infected by a 40 something planner who takes fucking cat videos. poor bastards, youve made gopro go from born to be wild to born to be mild in 10 fucking seconds.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by DH

I agree with Pete, there is some great advice about what makes a great brand and a meaningful ad in this post. It is just a shame that the main thing people will remember is your video at the end.
That aside, this is the sort of thing you should be writing more of. You have a great ability to make important considerations easy to digest and understand which can make everyone’s work, job and results much more enjoyable.

Comment by George

You mean by learning what not to do right?

Comment by DH

I think this blog is already pushing people to breaking point without me pretending I know what I’m talking about.

Comment by Rob

There is no justification for you buying a GoPro.

Comment by John

There’s no justification for him to by 99.9% of everything to buy Buthelezi carries on regardless.

Comment by DH

Actually there’s no justification for most of all the good things in his life now I come to think of it. He’s just a lucky bastard with more money than sense.

Comment by DH

hes never been able to justify why jill married him, dan hired him or why i worked with him so he sure as shit wont be able to justify why he bought a fucking gopro. or gono as theyre now known.

Comment by andy@cynic

He’s not interested in justification.

Comment by fredrik sarnblad

It’s not a question of at or to, ads should be talking with you. It’s all about the conversation. Apparently.

Comment by John

As for that Garmin ad – it looks to me that none of those photos were taken by or needed to be taken by a GoPro style camera. That’s just dumb.

Comment by John

Will Northern be seeing you on a youporn POV film any day soon Rob?

Comment by Bazza

Comment by John

That is an image that makes me ill, let alone Northern. Or Jill.

Comment by Rob

Thanks for searing that mental image on my delicate brain

Comment by Northern

You can tell you didn’t read my post John because they is basically what I say in it.

Comment by Rob

But not as clearly.

Comment by John

GoPro’s are brilliant. And unlike the other ‘action camera’ brands as well, they encourage you to go nuts with it.

Hence this:

The cat version of Smack My Bitch Up – make sure you keep watching….

Comment by Alex

An excellent summation of a brand driven by culture and a brand driven by process. An excellent read Robert.

Comment by Lee Hill

You should write more posts like this
Since you have another massive holiday coming up I suppose their is plenty of time

Comment by Northern

Yes I am … only a week or so away. Though tomorrow I’m presenting to the 10 most important people at NIKE globally, so there’s a good chance I might have the rest of my life to write posts while occasionally writing job application letters.

Comment by Rob

Just fucked it.

Comment by Billy Whizz

This video is perfect to make sure I get the home details just right in the book. 🙂

Comment by Heather

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This is a great post Rob, Love reading your blog. I don’t read many personal blogs talking about the industry and this is a gem.

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