Morgans Hotel Group just launched a rallying cry for the hip and cool: “Fuck the Recession!”
It definitely isn’t your typical campaign. After all, how many high-end brands would have the guts to launch a guerrilla campaign that has a big bold FUCK at its center, especially amidst what economists are calling the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression, when everyone is afraid to bet on anything but the safest communication’s strategies?
Not many, to be sure. So let’s right now salute the Morgans’ marketing team and The Ito Partnership for the big pair of balls they’ve just shown. But have they also shown sound judgement?
By shouting out loud what everybody’s saying privately, Morgans is bound to generate a lot of approval from the public. You really don’t have to do much market research to get the point that people are fed up with crisis-talk, and want a break from it. So “fuck the recession” is a tagline guaranteed to get enthusiastic cheers everywhere, from Wall Street boardrooms to construction sites.
However, “fuck the recession” is not all that Morgans is saying. After that enraged cry, comes the invitation to forget that your carefully crafted stock portfolio is now worthless, or that you left your workplace last week holding a card box, and just dive head first into a extravaganza of hedonistic excess.
In Morgans dimension, there is no crisis. Just like Twilight Zone, Morgans presents an alternate reality, where everything looks exactly like in the real world, except when you see a guy with an eye on his forehead passing by. In here, there’s no place for such a distasteful thing as a “crisis”, and even the dreaded word “recession” assumes a whole new meaning, being transformed into “recessison”, as in recess-is-on. Bottom line? It’s not time to complain, it’s time to play.
Of course playing doesn’t come free. If you’re planning a weekend in New York, and want to stay at the Morgans Hotel in Madison Avenue, be prepared to fork out around $800 for your two-day stay. And that’s for the cheapest room. So that’s the kind of ticket price we’re talking about for Morgans’ glamorous recess, where the crisis becomes a distant memory.
Aware that, at a time when auto execs are being publicly lambasted for having the audacity to travel to a Congressional hearing on their private jets, such displays of guiltless splurging might generate a strong backlash, Morgans tried to address the issue by getting so-called “ordinary people” to approve the “fuck the recession” message. Which, of course, didn’t prove to be hard.
However, this “average Joe” endorsement doesn’t add any value to the brand story. On the contrary, it adds a dissonant element that makes it look dangerously inauthentic. What, after all, are these people doing in that plot? Can you fit them in the hedonistic atmosphere that Morgans is inviting you to experience? No, of course you can’t.
The average Joe may be saying “fuck the recession” like the Wall Street executive, but he sure isn’t able to forget about it on Morgans’ recess. No, he’ll be too concerned with the mortgage for that. And he is bound to resent those who can just leave those worries at the cloakroom with their jackets. So it would be better for Morgans to have left it out of the picture altogether.
After all, Morgans isn’t exactly catering for the average Joe, is it? So the real question is if this 80’s-oh-so-80’s rallying cry of “Fuck the crisis, we want to party” will work when we’re already verging on the second decade of the 21st century.
Shouldn’t we all be more socially responsible and environmentally aware by now? Shouldn’t we be now behaving more like grown-ups that face problems head-on, and less like eternal teenagers that obliterate them in blaze of self-indulging hedonism?
Yes, maybe we should. But are we? I mean, really?