One of the greatest benefits of exploding social media is that buried talents the world over can be exposed and championed by the people. Most of the industries dedicated to the advancement of their fields, be it music, art, and so on, have structures that allow only a small number of people to get exposure, and often these people have been pushed through by a connection, a bribe, etc. The result is that the best talents don’t necessarily get “in the door” and thus never get noticed.
Select reality shows have tapped into this dynamic with immense success such as America’s Got Talent and The Voice. The allure of “discovering hidden talent” is so strong that these TV show franchises have expanded across many countries the world over. I would argue that The Voice taps into the dynamic of discovering buried talents best because it does not lean into the comic angle of showing really horrible performances which other similar shows do. Producers can still create surprise by recruiting truly unique, but talented, contestants as was done in both the Italian and Australian versions of The Voice (see below).
Even those that decide to gain notoriety by themselves have platforms to do it and the technology to make it happen at very low costs. We all know that Justin Bieber was discovered from a video that he uploaded to Youtube, and so many other great talents are exploring social channels in this way. Mind you, the path to success is still through someone of influence but now they aren’t in the form of a record executive who has financial incentive on his mind. Instead it is a blogger or community manager or influencer that just likes sharing great stuff. Additionally, these “online champions” are greater in number and can be accessed with greater ease, especially when the talent is shown in a truly unique way. A great example is a recent video of 2 Cello players who do a version of ACDCs Thunderstruck that is out of this world (have a look and make sure you don’t get thrown off by the slow start).
Brands have forever tapped into borrowed interest as a tactic to advance their marketing messages, but now they should apply this strategy slightly differently. They need to think less of borrowing a talent and instead nurturing one. Brands have the money and means to access huge groups of people. As such they are the best conduit to both discover and then merchandise hidden talents. Naturally, many Brands are doing this through projects such as Converse Rubber Tracks or The Red Bull Music Academy and so on. Yet these are generally not projects that are the focus of their marketing efforts. We know that consumers are expecting Brands of today to contribute and not just sell. Therefore, tapping into the the dynamic of discovering and championing hidden talents should be a much greater focus for Brands.
If Brands focus more on discovering and nurturing talents they not only are showing true care for their consumers and communities, they benefit from the authentic joy and happiness that their support do for those individuals. Moreover, efforts to merchandise hidden talents advances creativity which is a core capability that is needed in all parts of society and industry and will only become greater in importance as time moves forward (see Fast Company article on this). Imagine if a Pharmaceutical Brand would have discovered and nurtured people like Kenichi (see below) to celebrate the power of the human body.