Social objects and magic feathers

I’m an enthusiastic participant in the whole “social object” conversation. (Hugh crystallised it first here.)

I just want to add a caveat before we all get carried away and talk about Dumbo.

In the film, Dumbo stops believing he can fly, but his only friend, Timothy Mouse, improvises to rescue him. Timothy plucks a feather from his hat and persuades Dumbo that with this magic feather , his powers will be restored. It works a charm, and Dumbo soars to glory. Later on, there’s a turning point where Dumbo has to fly without the feather.

So the feather is not really magic, it just catalyses the magic. It might be convenient at times to put your faith in the feather but the deeper truth is more exciting.

So don’t let all the talk about social objects make you think that marketing is all about the props. The props are great if they spark relationships, and they may look important as markers of relationships… but they’re not the real magic.

4 thoughts on “Social objects and magic feathers

  1. Johnnie Moore

    Thanks Rob, I love that clip. I once played it to the board of a merchant bank to make that very point. (Apparently, passers-by in the corridor assumed that Disney must be in for an M&A pitch!)

  2. Tom Asacker

    Beautifully put.

    Lots of vessels would do. There is a need to switch gears here, first and foremost get under the problem of the magic of life, and forget for a while our usual obsessions with things.


    Perfect Johnnie! What matters will always trump what’s next!


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