What Do Rob Ford And Apple Have In Common?

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve heard about Toronto’s Mayor, Rob Ford, and all his late night talk show worthy antics.

If you don’t live in Toronto, you may be unaware that Mayor Ford still has a hardcore group of supporters, known as ‘Ford Nation’, who STILL say they would vote for him again.

Are these people crazy?  Are they experimenting with the same substances?


The answer is psychological in nature, and a huge opportunity for marketers.

When defining the concept of Marketing, my good friend Joe Polish says, “Marketing is applied psychology.”

The psychological concept here is called Confirmation Bias, and can have huge impact in the marketing world if you know how to apply it.


In a nutshell, Confirmation Bias is the tendency for people to favour information that confirms their beliefs.  According to the Wikipedia page on the topic, Confirmation biases contribute to overconfidence in personal beliefs and can maintain or strengthen beliefs in the face of contrary evidence.

When someone has a strong belief, especially an emotional one, they tend to have a filter when new information is presented.   They will search for information that confirms their beliefs, and ignore information that is contrary (even if the confirmation isn’t true or factual).

With respect to Ford Nation, Rob Ford has a strong brand message about lowering taxes, protecting citizens, and ending (in his words) “The Gravy Train” at City Hall.

This story is so strong, Ford Nation will ignore all the evidence to the contrary.  In fact, many Ford supporters will say “he’s one of us…everyone makes mistakes…etc.”.


You need to have a brand story that connects emotionally with people’s hearts.  You need to build a tribe, like Ford Nation, that share the same beliefs as you.  Beliefs so strong, it would be virtually impossible for your competitors to break their loyalty.

There are other companies that have done this successfully.  Take Apple, Starbucks, or Harley Davidson.  In the case of Apple, I’ve spoken to many people that say their Android phones are better – but try telling that to an Apple fan (and I’m sure you can still find devout Blackberry fans who feel the same way).