Poke beige in the eye.
What is it challenging?
The complacency and narrowmindedness of the status quo and those who keep to it.
Why does its consumer respond to it?
Engagement with its attitude, character and irreverence.
Christian Woolfenden, Marketing Director Paddy Power
This challenger narrative is one of provocation, a poke in the ribs, deliberately setting out to create controversy. Irreverent Mavericks are, in effect, counter-culture in a box. There is for most of them no higher purpose or mission than to entertain and engage: they use wit and humour to challenge complacency and the apparent comfort of the middle of the road and political correctness. Their currencies are salience, talkability, the media spotlight. And perhaps an amused gasp of disbelief.
How close to the wind they choose to sail defines whether they genuinely polarise the world, at least at the outset, or whether they appeal to a little of the irreverent in everybody. But they exude the kind of energy and character most of us would like more of: think of the sparkling irreverence of the South African casual dining brand Nando’s, for example, or the madcap energy of Scotland’s Irn Bru.
Now none of these ten challenger narratives is as shallow as merely a ‘positioning’: at their most powerful all of them represent, in effect, genuine cultures built around the demands of the narrative they are trying to tell. And the Irreverent Maverick is no different: behaving consistently in this way puts high demands on its own culture – an appetite for the media spotlight, a management acceptance of the downside possibility in taking risk, keeping one’s lawyers playing offense not defence, and recruiting for attitude as much as skill base.
There is a temptation to see this kind of attitude as a substitute for product strength – that challengers take the Irreverent Maverick stance because there is no other real difference in product offer between themselves and the competition. But this is too simplistic – very often they have a different kind of product or service proposition wrapped in this irreverent ethos, as the interview above with Paddy Power, one of the most entertaining and provocative Irreverent Mavericks today, reveals.