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What's Wrong With Classic? Acknowledging that New Isn't Always Better

Jun 21, 2008
My first childhood crush was on the cartoon Speed Racer.

When that theme song would start to play, time stood still. After each episode aired, I would sit for hours in my bedroom, perched on top of my toy box (my own little Mach 5), and reenact the episode, with me playing the role of Trixie. Ah, those were the days.

Imagine my surprise when I saw the trailer for the new Speed Racer movie. It is being described as a "live action" movie, but it appears to be more of an amalgamation of special effects and live action. I was immediately transported back to those early days of my childhood, long before words like branding, promotion and marketing were ever part of my daily lexicon.

In any case, what the heck did they do to my beloved Speed Racer?

Today's kids will no doubt be enthralled by this new 2.0 version of my childhood crush. For me, it signals the end of an era. Sure, this slick, action-packed version will no doubt be a hit among its target audience; I just can't help but reminisce about the original. Some things just can't be improved upon.

Now, before you label me a sour puss stick-in-the-mud, let me assure you that I do love and enjoy the advancements around me. I can remember the days before microwaves, the days when the television didn't require multiple remote controls, and the days when telephones had rotary dials - and for the record, I don't miss those days.

Audre Lorde put it best, "There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt." While I don't believe that is one hundred percent accurate, I do think that there is some truth to it.

As business owners, it is easy to fall prey to a culture with a short attention span. You may feel compelled to buckle to the pressure, and make changes. Before you decide to make sweeping changes and ride the wave of "new and improved," give some careful consideration to the impact these changes will have on your existing business.

Let's say, for example, that you buy out a competitor's business -- one that has a long-standing, and respected name in the community or market. Your first impulse may be to ride in, guns blazing, and change the name, or simply merge it under your own brand. Before you do this, consider the costs involved, as well as the potential customer loss involved when you lose that brand cache. It is far less costly to retain a customer than to secure a new one. Perhaps a better idea would be to simply merge the brands under a hyphenated umbrella -- taking full advantage of the strength and brand recognition of both.

Change, simply for the sake of change, is never a good idea.

For my movie dollar, Speed Racer was one of those things that you just can't (or at least shouldn't) improve upon. Look around, the marketplace is full of other examples. Don't believe me? Well, I have just two words for you...New Coke(R). Enough said.
About the Author
Traci Hayner Vanover, The Promo Diva(R), is the publisher of Create the Dream magazine, http://www.createthedream.com, and the president of Market Outside the Box Trade Association, http://www.marketoutsidethebox.com. She works with private clients as a publicist, copywriter and consultant.
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