Aurora Magazine

Promoting excellence in advertising

Harmonise or bust?

Published 27 Jun, 2023 02:00pm
Why brands should adopt Wu Wei.

Two things happened recently. Firstly, Bykea’s third-party interface was hacked and an obnoxious push notification was sent. Along with confused customers and worries about data security, and people poking fun and sending memes – a few competitors, and even non-competitor brands, decided to milk the moment and display their creative marketing skills by sending out their own push notifications based on the hacked message. This is not acceptable.

True, of one of the brands involved apologised on LinkedIn, but the question is why do it in the first place? Was it the ephemeral and constant search for virality? Was it an attempt to get back at a brand that had ridiculed others in their own communications? In my opinion, the answer goes deeper. It is about shortcuts.

Shortcuts represent our crazy desire to get everything we want quickly. We can see this in action, to our detriment, when we drive on the roads – vehicles speeding through intersections in order to save precious seconds, or driving the wrong way to save precious fuel. Lives, apparently, are not precious in Pakistan, and safety is something we sacrifice at the drop of a hat. Apart from motorists, students, office workers as well as advertisers and marketers, are all looking for that quick path to whatever they want; riches, fame, respect or grades. It is about a longing for instant or short-term gratification.

Another problem in our society is competing. Everyone wants a shortcut because they want to get ahead of others. We have taught our kids to compete not collaborate – that is one behaviour we have successfully ingrained in them. Yet, the truth is that people and brands need to learn to collaborate not compete – and this means practicing Wu Wei.

Wu Wei, or effortless action, is a Tao principle that teaches us that we cannot force things to happen. We need to understand the ebb and flow of life. This may appear on the surface to be at the opposite end of Iqbal’s concept of Khudi – or at least the common interpretation of it. Yet, the truth is that the essence of both is same – harmony and the Zen of things.

Three principles of Tao philosophy that can be adopted by marketers are compassion, moderation and humility – and the people who tried to leverage the hacked push notification would have done well to have remembered them. Adopting Wu Wei means there is no need for shortcuts, and learning to be less judgemental and stop wasting our time trying to create connections and links where they don’t exist and forcing outcomes based on our bias and prejudice.

This brings me to the second thing that happened. It is a comparison between the number of universities and shrines in our country that were shared on social media. On the surface, this seems like a good starting point for a discussion. Or is it, once again, an example of our love of shortcuts and hasty action? Is there really any correlation between the two? Can we honestly say that quality is related to quantity?

It’s time to stop competing and trying to create links where they don’t exist. Let’s embrace Wu Wei and make harmony a part of our professional and personal lives.

Tyrone Tellis is Senior Manager, Corporate Sales and PR, Bogo.