Unless you've been hiding in a cave for the last few weeks the Euro 2016 Championships won't have passed you by. If you're a football fan you'll have been gripped by the build-up and on-going speculation by the pundits and bookies - particularly as 3 out of our 4 home teams are represented (ooops, look away now Scotland!) If you're not a fan, then you’re more likely to have been irritated by the disruption to the TV schedules (and of course that same build-up and on-going speculation by the pundits and bookies) set to continue until 10th July.
Footie follower or not, like the rest of us you'll have been horrified by the violence, disregard for bona fide supporters and shocking antics of some of our marauding countrymen. It leaves us all scratching our heads and wondering whatever happens that prompts them to behave so badly when they leave our shores?
In 2008 Seth Godin wrote “Tribes: We need you to lead us”. Though he wasn't writing about soccer hooliganism per se he did explore how humans have always sought to be part of a group and how that belonging is in our very nature. Whether that’s for safety (in numbers), success (to achieve a difficult task) and in extreme and certainly in times of risk and danger, survival.
For primitive man physical geography alone would have determined his tribe. But advances in communication and opportunities to travel meant modern more sophisticated “tribes” later became based on, for example, religion, politics or sporting allegiances. And then the Internet came along.
The global villager
The Canadian, Marshall McLuhan, coined “the Global Village” phrase recognising that the Internet, and our subsequent access to blogs, social networking, Web 2.0, etc. ultimately linked everyone in the world. Its connectivity allowed for bigger tribes but its reach meant that they became more plentiful. Now even those with very specialist or niche interests could find each other and come together wherever their location on Planet Earth.
A big admirer of Harry Potter tattoos? There’s a fan page for that. A collector of Patagonian Welsh choir music? There’s a YouTube channel just waiting for your subscription. Some of these tribes may be strange, while others like those besieging France at the moment are dangerous, but the now almost infinite number of these tribes has made “longtail marketing” (the access to, and targeting of, any number of niche markets) not just possible but for many businesses a viable strategy.
Want to be in our gang?
If you're reading this, chances are you're part of our tribe. Neither strange, nor dangerous, there's no war-cry, dance, rituals or even markings. We’re just bound by a mutual interest in successful marketing and a passion for print. Thanks for joining, it's great to have you with us!