Medieval Times, a really retro-themed dinner theater and jousting tournament, has marched along for decades. But a change that started 18 months ago has captured a current political and social move for great branding and customer appeal. And as of yesterday, you can add attention from the media for some significant PR.
You can also strike a victory through a sincere action that catches the spirit of the times. For example, when outdoor clothing company Patagonia sharply criticized the Trump administration over the decision to shrink the size of some national monuments, it gained a lot of publicity and positive good will from its customer base.
Medieval Times isn't the type of business generally associated with causes. People go there for the food and drink, spectacle, and laughs (plus a joust). For the first time, the performer that presides over the proceedings in nine different locations is a woman playing a queen, not a male king.
What set director Leigh Cordner rewriting the show to feature a queen rather than a king as the sole reigning character was years of customer feedback that he finally acted on, according to an interview in the Chicago Tribune. That the results, after 18 months of work, would align so well with the upsurge of the #MeToo movement and the success of the Wonder Woman screen adaptation was luck in one sense. But not in another. Cordner listened to people and responded accordingly.
The queens -- because this does take place in multiple venues across the U.S. and Canada -- had to learn to ride horses and play a role where they are in control. Of course, these are people acting, but it's the projection of women in power that is enjoying reported wide audience support, particularly when male characters challenge the queen who, in turn, puts them in their place.
The vast majority of businesses may not strictly speaking run a show, but in a sense they do. Your demeanor toward customers as a business owner, executive, or employee should not be everyday behavior. It should be alert, attentive, and employ the best control and attention.
That doesn't mean to pander. People often pick up on insincere efforts. But when you can adapt to suit sensibilities without pretending to be something you are not, you should. Why not respect the wishes of the people who ultimately pay the bills when you can?