True leaders respect their followers. I have always been struck by celebrities that disdain their audience members. "Followers" has an updated meaning now that we call the people that follow us on Twitter followers.
Maybe David Letterman started it, but the number of celebrities that are plainly complaining about their fans really makes me scratch my head. If fans or followers make the celebrity, wouldn't the celebrities customer be the fan? Without customers...
Politicians are really the neediest of celebrities when it comes to followers because they need their followers to vote. Another thing that struck me about Game Change (see my review yesterday) was the way some of the candidates do not respect their constituents at all. At times they plainly showed how little respect they had for them. John Edwards really took the cake in the book when we went from saying "They love me!" to his staff after a good speech to "They looooove me!" with an eye roll.
The idea with a brand is to build a relationship with a customer that is larger than a single transaction. Brands have followers just like celebrities and politicians and just as strangely, some customers continue to buy from brands even when they are showed no respect at all.
Yesterday I was listening the Advertising Show podcast where Rose Cameron, Euro RSCG Strategy Chief, was asked about the difference between the US and British advertising markets. Her answer? In Great Britain advertisers have a "real respect for the intellect of their audience". In America we continue to buy from companies that have little or no respect for us or our intelligence.
When it comes to politicians, celebrities or brands there are plenty of strange things to marvel at, but for me the strangest is how people continue to follow those that clearly have no respect for them.