The foodie superstar and host of TV’s No Reservations and Parts Unknown uses a “Grandma rule” to help his brand flourish. It has nothing to do with nagging, and everything to do with how to win fans for life.
I’m a voracious traveler. For the past 30 years, I’ve traversed nearly every state, trekked through Central American rainforests, swam
the rough Pacific seas, and sampled Europe’s refined cultures.
Nothing, however, compares to Anthony Bourdain’s travel log. In case
you do not subscribe to cable TV, Bourdain hosted a highly acclaimed
show on The Travel Channel, No Reservations. He is a prolific food author and speaker with a penchant for food porn. He just landed a food-documentary series on CNN, Parts Unknown.
Bourdain doesn’t sample new cultures; he feasts on
them. He lives in the moment with every episode. It’s a Zen experience
to watch his shows. He is on a mission to help our society connect with
and embrace other cultures through shared food experiences.
As a senior marketer, do you have the same voracious appetite for your organization and your customers?
Recently my husband and I attended Bourdain’s one-man lecture, Guts
& Glory, in Washington D.C. Actually, it was more like a two-hour
rant on the U.S. junk food industrial complex. He also shared some
savory video nuggets from his 20-year global food journey. That’s where
his mission became very clear to me. These highlights may give you some
food for thought on how gutsy you are when it comes to expressing your
personal and organizational brand:
1. Tell the truth. Now. Bourdain’s first vignette offered scathing words on the Paula Deen cooking empire.
According to Bourdain, Deen waited at least three years before
telling her community about her diabetes. Reports indicate she was
diagnosed in 2008. He also believes that she waited for the ink to dry
on her sponsorship deal with drugmaker Novo Nordisk. In early 2012, she
teamed with them to promote a Novo diabetes drug. In a 2012 interview
Bourdain challenged her decision: “When your signature dish is
hamburger in between a doughnut, and you’ve been cheerfully selling this
stuff knowing all along that you’ve got Type 2 Diabetes… It’s in bad
taste if nothing else. How long has she known? I suspect a very long
time.” Delay and deception are the ingredients to launching a phony
2. Make it personal. Bourdain dedicated the last portion of his lecture and No Reservations
video montage to a topic that hits closer to home: teaching our
children to eat healthily. For him, it’s personal. Bourdain quit smoking
when his daughter was born six years ago, and his commitment to teaching
her healthy eating habits soon followed. He told Grub Street New York
that “I’ve gone with the black propaganda method. I’ve told my child
that McDonald’s is bad and causes horrifying health effects that are
likely to make her unhealthy, physically unattractive, and marginalized
at school. Scaring the hell out of a kid isn’t so hard. Ronald McDonald
is a bad guy in our house. He’s not a friendly clown.”
3. Choose acceptance over austerity. I will be the
first to admit that Bourdain’s presentation, at times, made me
uncomfortable. He has “issues” with vegetarians who make rigid special
menu requests prior to a hosted culinary gathering. During his many
Vietnam treks, for example, Bourdain has always been aware that some
natives serve dog. His host–an amputee who lost both legs to the stray
landmines American troops had dropped during the Vietnam war–served
Bourdain an unidentified meat with great kindness and hospitality.
That’s when Bourdain enforced his personal “Grandma rule.” “When I was a
boy, we always ate Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma’s. She served the
same dry turkey every year. And even though I hated it, I smiled and
said ‘thank you.’”
Choosing acceptance over rigor, sharing your personal story, and
responding rapidly take guts. You need to tap into your “inner marketing
guru” to find what’s true. Bourdain’s boundary-less brand beliefs will
keep you on the road to brand glory. Bon appetit.
[Image: Flickr user C. G. P. Grey]
This post originally appeared in FastCompany.
copyright 2013, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved.