Portswood State of Mind: It’s all about localism

Two years after Alicia Keys’ New York State of Mind, and a year after the rather more enjoyable YouTube sensation Newport State of Mind, finally comes Portswood State of Mind.

It’s a parody glorifying Portswood, a suburb in Southampton full of students, kebab shops and dodgy-but-fun clubs with broken glass on the floor.

We can all agree the New York State of Mind parody concept isn’t new, but if you’re from Southampton, chances are you’ll love the video anyway. And given I grew up near Southampton, predictably I do love it. (The video that is, not really Southampton as much.)

Despite how it may seem, I’m not sharing this purely out of nostalgia (although Alma Road does make me reminisce about parties), nor am I sharing it because being British we all get a little kick out of ironically celebrating how the places we live are just a little bit shit.

So what’s my point? Why am I sharing this with you when you’re probably not from Portswood and probably now never want to go there?

Because as marketers we need to think about localism more.

For better or worse, we’re all emotionally tied to the places we live or have lived in. It’s like a family member – you may hate them at times, but if anyone else says anything bad about them, they’ll get smacked.

Although the video isn’t original, it will continue to spread like wildfire through my ‘Southampton’ online networks. It was on 300 views in the morning and by 6.30pm it had crept up to nearly 10K. And if you made a video about Southsea (Portsmouth) it would do the same there, and Reddich (Birmingham, ish) it would spread like wildfire there too. Could a big brand do something similar with credibility?

It’s true that ‘local interest’ videos like these reach a very small group of people compared to targeting an entire nation with a ‘viral’ video, but all marketers know personalisation is often what suddenly makes people alert to what you’re telling them. Smaller, yet more powerful reach. People actually want to engage with it.

The downside is that ‘local’ content naturally can’t be part of an identikit campaign rolled out/regurgitated over multiple locations with only a bit of white-labelling. It requires local knowledge and time investment to make sure you’re targeting the right people, in the right way – and probably on a very tight budget given the much smaller target audience.

But, if you have a reliable group of people on the ground helping you to get it right, you’re much more likely to create content people will be eager to share and discuss. Who knows, your content may even end up at that mystical and elusive target location, ‘Going Viral’.


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