Fame and Faithfulness

I watched U23D Saturday night at the IMAX cinema. I've never been to a U2 concert, but my blue and red-lensed glasses did a magical job of transporting me into the undulating, sweaty crowd of 120,000 at River Plate Stadium, Buenos Aires.

All told, U2's Vertigo tour sold over four and a half million tickets worldwide, and I couldn't help thinking about the global icon Bono has become as I watched him from 12 optical inches away.

I confess that I want to be where Bono is. At least, I'm enticed to want my product (whatever that may be) to become a global hit. Perhaps my product, or even I myself, could become a household name, like "Bono."

In the kind of work I do, I'm first of all tempted to get there via something like a viral craze; like an internet blaze fanned by word-of-mouth, landing me in a global cyber-stadium, center stage. Regardless of whether I "sold" YouTube videos or soft drinks or facial tissues or the (RED) campaign, this is a marketer's dream, no?

But I know better: Instantaneous success is a long-shot at best, even with a good product. "Creating a societal trend is the Holy Grail of viral marketing, from which golden riches are promised to freely flow. The reality, of course, is that devising a program to go 'viral' is like an amateur daytrading in the stock market. There are too many variables..." (Ben McConnell, author of Citizen Marketers).

What if I took wiser advice, then, to get to center stage? Legendary marketing strategist, Al Ries, says, "A powerful brand is built by consistency, year after year after year" (Ad Age.com, 11/2005). That's what U2 has done for three decades. They began with a good product and kept building it, and look at them now.

Unfortunate for my star-gazing eyes, this formula - albeit a good one in general - doesn't guarantee iconic status either. But that's not the point of faithfulness anyway, is it?

I've been called to do every day what is honorable to God who has called me, and loving to my neighbors along the way. This is faithfulness, and though it may result in making me a household name, that's not the point. Center stage is not the point. In fact, if I lived out my calling as I ought to, I wonder if I would even notice or care when I got there.

Becoming famous as a result of being faithful is a whole lot more valuable than being faithful (or going viral) for the purpose of becoming famous.


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