A wedding is more often than not described as “your wedding” when talking to the groom but “YOUR wedding” when talking to the bride. As elements of marketing and consumerism clash with the ideals and vows of a ceremony introducing a new family, union, chapter in two lives, all too often the groom is pushed out of the scheme, color, and eventful anticipation. Not so with Prince Harry. This weekend, Meghan, the bride wore her own purchased dress but all the other elements were their decisions and choices. The ceremony was further proof it was a return to a time when a wedding was an opportunity for the guests to participate, not with gifts, but by becoming witnesses of the ceremony and in agreement to nurture and sustain those promises making up a covenant of Holy Matrimony.
The world of nearly two billion onlookers, from various mediums, heard an additional participation by the guests, a loud and hearty “WE WILL” when Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby asks the congregation: “Will you, the families and friends of Harry and Meghan, support and uphold them in their marriage now and in the years to come?”
The most influential marketing experts might have predicted the $1.4 billion impact, of revenue, by the wedding. The vows were publicized prior to being said as well as the timetable of events. (Link to Prince Harry Meghan Vows) , so in effect it was a very predictable ceremony. There were no heads of states, no foreign royals, and while celebrities infused the media frenzy, most would have presumed Prince Harry’s niece and nephew to fill some of the gap available for media commentary and attention with a parallel and larger pulse of comments on social media.
However, the toothless grin of excitement by the Mulroney twin, one of ten children in the wedding party, was a relatable, unscripted, photo bomb minutes before the ceremony, which only electronic viewers were privy to as it happened. No marketing frenzy or usurped endorsement, as would be expected with clothing, hats, or shoes, will come from that priceless smile.
Why, despite naysayers whispering about the cost of the wedding, the wealth of the Queen, the usefulness (or not) of the monarchy, did this wedding not only garner media attention and despite these influences, a large worldwide viewing?
“We are living at a time when creeds and ideologies vary and clash. But the gospel of human sympathy is universal and eternal.” — Samuel Hopkins Adams
More than twenty years have passed since Lady (Princess) Diana died, leaving her sons without a mother. A few bitter or jaded people may heartlessly avoid any sympathy, but for the most part the sympathy and interest in Prince William and Harry has never become a commodity. While Prince William has not had as much media coverage for antics as his brother in years past, both have gone on to serve in the military, respect veterans, volunteer and start charities, and embrace their family. Their grandmother, like many other grandmothers, took on a new role in the absence of their mother. She became relatable, as she was during WWII as London was besieged with bombs and devastation.
It is very possible, the relatable vows, the inclusion of the congregation, the inclusion of a very different Pastor delivering a very American style sermon, a significantly noticeable train for her gown reminiscent of Diana’s but of lace and shorter, and the inclusion of only children in the wedding party; all this kept a worldwide audience tuned to the event.
So what can marketing, branding, and merchandising experts learn from “The Wedding” of Harry and Meghan?
Keep it simple. Don’t over market, over brand, or infuse too much of your agenda into your event or announcements. Yes it is your product but don’t distract from this fact: Publicity of your product should not undermine your product.
Be prepared to identify the problem. When Tylenol received the worst publicity, they contained the damage by fixing the package but never changing the product. It was not their formula that caused the deaths.
Make use of your opportunity. Your message might be infused by a toothless grin offering the best introduction and impact of your product; but this fact remains, no matter how much you market or publicize your product if your audience doesn’t PARTICIPATE you may invite more confusion into your message, and less interest and concern about your product.