The Church of the Latter-Day Dude

PLUS: The death of the CMO continues…
March 22, 2024

Happy Friday!

The rise of metamodernism has been no stranger to the lips and fingers of Future Commerce.

As Phillip wrote in Insiders #148: The Rise of Mockup Culture: ‘Metamodernism is a cultural philosophy that explains the emergence of ‘ironic sincerity’ in art and media.”

It’s been on the rise, and perhaps has overtaken postmodernism as the predominant stance of our age.

ChatGPT generated. Prompted by Erika Dyer for Future Commerce

So while I wasn’t particularly surprised to run into a story about a “Dudeist Priest” who falsified over 800 bank documents related to 190 of Britain’s major companies, I still found myself cracking up. Yes, you heard me right. The Church of the Latter-Day Dude (as it is officially known) is a religion inspired by the character Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski from Joel and Ethan Cohen’s The Big Lebowski. 

Dudeism was founded in 2005 by journalist Oliver Benjamin. It has its saints—The Great Dudes—such as Snoopy and Quincy Jones, and its sacred texts, such as the Tao of the Dude, The Dude Testament, and Duderonomy. And one of their priests just went full Tyler Durden and sent a bunch of falsified documents to banks saying debts had been paid. Why? According to Fortune, the man “didn’t have a clear rationale for pursuing the companies that he did.” I’d say that’s very The Big Lebowski of him (although r/Dudeism generally agreed it wasn’t very Dude-like).

Here’s what surprised me: as I dug deeper into dudeism, I discovered last year there were about 700,000 ordained dudeist priests worldwide (dudeism.com says over 600,000). Seven. Hundred. Thousand. This isn’t just some jokey stunt. There are almost double the number of ordained dudeist priests than there are Quakers in the world. QUAKERS. As in the centuries-old religious group with its own cereal brand. 

This is hyperstition unhinged.

There’s a good chance I already know a dudeist, and there’s a good chance a dudeist is reading this newsletter. There’s a much better chance there’s a dudeist reading this newsletter than a Quaker.

Despite Dudeism’s call to “come join the slowest-growing religion in the world,” by my completely non-academic uncitable calculations, as a percentage Dudeism has to be one of the fastest, if not the fastest growing religions of the past 20 years.

One of the fastest growing religions in the world is based on the beliefs of a fictional character from a cult comedy (emphasis on cult). Are people just having fun with it? Are they just fans of the movie so they’re exhibiting behavior consistent with Future Commerce’s thesis around “The Multiplayer Brand”?

This is deeper. The dudeists might be having fun, but the principles outlined in dudeism actually do correspond with what they believe - and probably already believed. What’s interesting is how media provided them a form to rally around. The Dude is a quantum symbol, existing out of space and time, encapsulating the beliefs and emotions of multiple cultures and generations.

Symbols, muses, faces, voices, phrases, smells, products - there are some that have the ability to be reused and recontextualized over and over, to absorb multiple forms of meaning. These are the tools necessary to navigate our metamodern culture.

The metamodern brand requires world-building around its products that enable the endowment of more than form and content. World-building is a loaded term and yes, it can get a little cringy. That’s why using multi-meaning symbols as building blocks is so important - your fans and customers will be able to do it with you. Just look at the Dude, feel his abiding power, and you’ll agree with what I’m saying.

So for those of you out there who don’t believe (you know who you are) in the power of world-building in commerce, well, that’s just like, your opinion, man

I’m not a dudeist but yeah I’m gonna go throw on my Pendleton Westerley. It’s not just a product. It has meaning.

-Brian

Image Credit: Brett Jordan via Unsplash

IPO Fever. Amidst a sluggish IPO market, Reddit emerges with a $6.5 billion valuation, pricing shares at $34 each. A bold move, AND IT PAID OFF. It’s up 48%! We are excited to see how entering the public arena fares for them in the long run. Congrats to our friends over there, especially Matt Klein. 

The future of travel is…QR codes? Singapore is introducing “passport-free travel” when crossing the border over to Malaysia, in an effort to streamline immigration travel times by avoiding as many checkpoints. Be sure to charge your phone or you’ll be outta luck.

One Iced Oatmilk Shaken C-Suite Please. Starbucks reshapes its leadership landscape, dissolving the Global CMO role in favor of three regional CEO titles in North America, China, and International divisions. This reorg is part of a larger initiative to revamp the in-store experience, enhance employee relations, and allow each region to customize its marketing and messaging. We were early in spotting this trend in our podcast with Michael Miraflor and Alexa Lombardo live at MUSES this past December.

Retro Resurgence. According to the trends, it’s time to take a trip back to your parent’s basement and retrieve your Nikon Coolpix out of storage. Despite the on-paper inferior image quality compared to the latest iPhone, these y2k cameras have charmed their way back into our hearts and are cool again. 

ChatGPT generated. Prompted by Erika Dyer for Future Commerce

Birkin Battle. There are few things that are iconically difficult—nay impossible to get. One, a same-day reservation at Carbone (IMPORTANT NOTE - Buca di Beppo : High School Prom :: Carbone : Business Meetings), and two, a Birkin bag on your own timeline when you walk into Hermès. It’s like a game of cat and mouse with your Hermès associate. Did you spend enough there this month? Did you refuse their offering of a bright orange Kelly bag last spring because orange isn’t your color? Did you decline their phone call because you were on a work call? Did you forget to compliment your associate on their scarf during your last appointment? The people have had enough of waiting to be the chosen one and perfect customer, and Hermès has a lawsuit stating unfair, high-stakes, manipulative practices to show for it

Condom Couture. Upcycler Kristen McCoy unveiled a new fashion line made entirely out of unused latex condoms. This latest drop exhibits the fusion of fashion, sustainability, and sexual health awareness, pushing the boundaries of what can be used to make wearable art. You know what they say, sex(ual health awareness) sells!

Stitched Up. Joann, the beloved crafting chain store, has filed for bankruptcy after the post-pandemic drop in DIYing…but crafting girlies don’t shed your tears yet, their 800 stores will stay open and its online presence will remain as they handle financial restructuring. BRIAN PREDICTED THIS JUST TWO MONTHS AGO in our predictions episode when he named Joanns as his biggest retail loser of the year.

ChatGPT generated. Prompted by Erika Dyer for Future Commerce

“Hatch Happy.” At Krispy Kreme, spring has officially sprung. Celebrate by sampling their newest collection of pastel Easter-themed doughnuts, including one with Cadbury mini eggs in a chocolate nest. Get ready to be addicted, cuz those mini eggs’ll getcha.

Cupcakes Not Included. Keds sweetened the footwear scene by collaborating with the iconic Magnolia Bakery with a new collection that’s a feast for the eyes. Now your classic Keds silhouette kicks can feature confetti sprinkles, cupcake charms, and pastel colorways. Cute!

Churr-Oreo. Gone are the days of lamenting Costco’s discontinued churros, as Oreo launches their newest flavor, coming soon to stores near you. We’re not sure it will hold a candle to Costco’s, but nostalgia is fun.

ChatGPT generated. Prompted by Erika Dyer for Future Commerce

Biden v. Apple. In an unprecedented move, the DOJ teamed up with 15 states and D.C. to bring a legal battle to Apple’s doorstep. Apple is accused of monopolistic practices that inflate consumer costs and stifle developer innovation in the smartphone market. This lawsuit is part of a wider crackdown on Big Tech’s dominance. Apple rebuffs these claims and warns of the lawsuit’s potential to disrupt innovation.

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