The power of hype

Sean Hand – Senior Account Executive at Spreckley

If you were trying to explain to an alien what we on planet Earth refer to as ‘hype’, there are countless examples you can call upon. A political figure that comes out of nowhere and breaks the mould with a unique approach to the job; the hysteria that greets the beginning of every new season of Game of Thrones; the feverish anticipation that surrounds Andy Murray’s annual assault on the Wimbledon title. As humans, we’re predisposed to getting excited about an upcoming event that elicits powerful emotions: hope, happiness, nostalgia, fulfilment.

Hype can be a beautiful thing. In the case of something like Fifty Shades of Grey, it can make a distinctly mediocre product seem world-beating. When it comes to a much sought-after smartphone app (Pokémon Go, I choose you!), it can revive interest in a franchise that most of us twenty-somethings thought had been relegated to the dusty storybook of childhood memories. These examples have ridden the wave of hype, and seen glorious results.

But hype can also be a cruel mistress; one that promises you the world and makes you feel a million dollars, only to knock you out, steal your wallet and abandon you in a ditch in the dead of night when you thought it was all going so swimmingly. To illustrate this point, look no further than England’s latest international football tournament debacle. Buoyed by a fervent – yet ultimately misplaced – hope that the team could finally make their long-suffering fans proud, the English went into the competition with a renewed sense of optimism. As we all know, Roy Hodgson and his players turned out to be shrinking violets, not able to deliver on the hype surrounding them before they set off for France.

Hype around an event or product launch can be consciously generated by way of a well-planned viral marketing and PR campaign. Occasionally, it grows organically, for reasons that are less clear. Regardless of how it develops, it is always up to you to deal with the aftermath. You should appreciate the peaks it brings, but also anticipate the troughs when the initial fuss inevitably dies down.

Talk to your fans or customers: find out what makes them tick, and what got them so excited in the first place. Adapt your future product updates and launches to suit their needs and desires, and back them up with structured, creative marketing and PR campaigns. With this emphasis on quality and meeting demand, your next launch might just be met with the same level of insatiable interest as the last.

Ride the wave, then have a think about how you can make more.