In trying to make sense of the current economic and swine flu “epidemics,” perhaps we can gain insight from a work of fiction. In Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Algo muy grave va a suceder en este pueblo, a woman wakes up with an ominous feeling that something bad is going to happen to her town. This feeling turns into panic as rumors spread about her foreboding. In the end, something bad does happen to the town—but only because of the town people’s hysteria.
There’s a valuable lesson in this: Sometimes, by repeating and sensationalizing a story, you help create a worse reality. Fear can drive people’s behaviors, leading to self-fulfilling prophesies. It’s an important, cautionary tale for today’s times.
Brands have the ability to shape the stories that are told. Let them be positive and inspire rather than instill despair and hopelessness.
Photo credit: Diego Torquemada