The great American “West” has been ingrained in the minds of millions throughout the world, thanks in large part to Hollywood and its development of the Western movie genre. Using their own backyard—the real western prairies, peaks, and desert valleys—as vivid backdrops and multi-sensory triggers, Hollywood filmmakers for nearly a century have portrayed an equally vivid landscape of American icons and values—where good and evil, wanderlust and recklessness, courage and cowardice are played out in the lives of real or mythical pioneers, cattlemen, miners, homesteaders, Indians, gunslingers, and lawmen. “Thanks to Hollywood, virtually everyone knows the ingredients of the Western,” writes Gary Johnson. “…the lassos and the Colt .45s; the long-horned steers…, the stagecoaches…the Stetson hats…” And now, thanks to Bill O’Reilly’s “Legends & Lies: The Real West” we’ll all know the real truth that lies behind legends we still sing songs about.
The American Cowboy
The American cowboy—thanks to the Western film—is an American phenomenon and for people around the world an icon for what it means to be American—whether influenced by Hollywood, Texas, or Nashville or the over 600 spaghetti Westerns produced in continental Europe. “The iconography of the Western is the largest and richest of all the film genres,” notes Johnson, “and Hollywood has burned it into the minds of moviegoers from Dodge City to Timbuktu.”
In a sense, we’ve been branded as a people and as a nation. This branding process continues today, even as the Western film genre fades, because Western icons are embedded in our language (we use branding in marketing lingo to mean basically the same thing!), our songs, our food, our fashions, our advertising, our politics and our world views. Whether we wear a Stetson or ball cap, we still wear the mantle of the mythical Western cowboy.
At times, Americans may be ecstatic, embarrassed, or indifferent about our ‘cowboy’ brand, but—for better or worse—it still resonates for many here and abroad. Just as cowboys capture and brand the young calves and dogies before letting them lose to join the heard and wander the range, there’s never any doubt where those little guys are from, for the rest of their lives, thanks to the brand.
We love the branding business. When we help a client lasso those elements that make their brand unique and compelling, share their strengths and challenges, dreams and concerns, and share a story or two around the campfire, you get to know someone “real good.”
Yes. You’ve knowingly entered the Wild, Wild West. Social media or smoke signals? A press campaign or Pony Express? Are your little dogies getting lost in the herd? Just think about this vast multi-sensory, media frontier. It is the wild, wild West. You could go it alone, of course. Or you could call Souza.