Chad’s Dad: 8 things we can learn about likeability from Bert Le Clos

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If there were an Olympics of likeability, Bert Le Clos would stand a very good chance of getting gold. Deadspin deemed his BBC interview “the media moment of the games” at the time, and to date it has scored over 353 000 views. #chadsdad trended in the UK and Bert became part of the cultural lexicon:

In fact, his only serious rival would probably be Oscar Pistorius, who manages to be inspiring, humble and nice (and very pleasant to look at too) which makes his a different kind of likeability altogether.

It’s worth looking at Bert Le Clos, because in an age dominated by retweets and the like button, likeability is more important than ever. People relate better to people they like, and the same applies to brands. Almost every consumer brand strategy I tackle now includes ‘likeability’ somewhere in the communication objectives. So what can we learn from #chadsdad? What exactly makes it so easy for so many people to like him?

1. He’s real
You don’t get more authentic than Bert Le Clos. Here’s a man who talks to Clare Balding of the BBC like he’s having a beer with his mates around the braai.

2. He’s sincere
He means what he says and audiences can tell. In social media, it’s a lot harder to get away with insincerity.

3. He’s outrageous enough to be funny (and distinctive)
His interview went viral because it was so over the top. Like the parents of Aly Raisman, whose reactions captured on camera were quickly turned into this meme, it was the exceptional and remarkable that captured the attention of a fickle audience.

4. He’s flawed
Bert isn’t perfect. He’s an overweight middle-aged guy and he isn’t afraid to admit that. In the age of the Flawsome trend, this plays well.

5. He’s happy
We like happy people, as long as their happiness is about things we can also be happy about. Bert seems to be exceptionally happy all the time. Take a look at his Twitter avatar. How can you not love these two?

6. He wears his heart on his sleeve
His love for his son and pride in his achievements is something that any parent can relate to. Bert isn’t afraid to show a tear or two and people love him for that.

7. He speaks his mind
If Bert were too nice, he wouldn’t be as funny and entertaining. I caught a radio interview with him where he described how impossible it was for him to be near his son. He described as being like a Bette Midler song: “From a Distance”.

8. He isn’t (obviously) playing to an audience
Though Bert is a clown, and clowns need audiences, there’s a charming naivety about him. The moment when he apologized because he didn’t realize his BBC interview was live was telling – for a moment he’d forgotten about the audience. Coming across as contrived would have undermined our ability to relate to him.

Thank you Bert for proving just how wrong the writers of that old Spitting Image song — “I’ve never met a nice South African” — really were. Give the man a Bell’s.

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