3 mins

Becoming an antifragile brand


Lewis Capaldi

Last month Oasis legend Noel Gallagher decided to take a pop at up and coming music star Lewis Capaldi:

Music is f*****g w**k at the moment. Whose this Capaldi fella? Who the f****s that idiot!

Capaldi’s response was nothing short of brilliant. Performing at Glastonbury he walked out to the video of Noel Gallagher’s criticism, dressed in a bucket hat and parka (a classic Gallagher outfit), before dedicating his performance to Noel at the end.

Capaldi’s entrance went viral. It got his name all over the press and social media and won him lots of new fans.

Gallagher responded by calling Capalidi, F***ing Chewbacca. Capaldi countered by changing his Twitter photo to Chewbacca and his name to Chewis Capaldi. He was running rings around him.

Tweet Photo Before and After

Gallagher's words were designed to do damage. But Capaldi took ownership of them. He wore them as a badge of honor. And in doing so he became antifragile. The more you messed with him the stronger he got.

Understanding Antifragility

In plain language, antifragility is the opposite of fragility.

If you mess with something fragile you do damage. If you mess with something antifragile you make it stronger. Take golf as an example. The fragile golfer loathes the wind. The antifragile golfer uses it to their advantage.

And it’s the same with brands. The majority of brands are fragile. Increases in volatility (randomness, stressors, mistakes) are a PR departments worst nightmare. Just look at Facebook’s share price in 2018.

Fragile / Antifragile graph

But occasionally, just like Lewis Capaldi or the skilled golfer playing in the wind, brands can actually benefit from increases in randomness, stressors or mistakes.


Last year KFC ran out of chicken and were forced to temporarily close 700 UK branches. For the majority of companies, such a monumental fuck up would be a complete disaster. The default response is to issue a formal apology:

We’re launching a full and frank internal inquiry Bla Bla Bla …

But this is fragile. It only ever adds fuel to the fire. Fortunately, KFC’s PR team intuitively grasped antifragility.

Instead, they took out a full-page ad in UK newspapers, showing an empty bucket of chicken, and the letters of their famous logo rearranged to read “FCK”.

KFC ran out of chicken ad

People started to see the funny side and just like that, an impending disaster was spun into a positive PR story. That's antifragility.

Becoming Antifragile

The key is ownership. You either own the story or you let the story own you. And as we've seen through this article the best route to taking ownership is:

1. Embracing your flaws

2. Not taking yourself too seriously

For example:

You will never get bullied for having a big nose if you walk around with a t-shirt saying, “I’ve got a big nose”.

This is Eminem's rap battle theory: you say everything about yourself before somebody else does.

And then you're antifragile. Nothing anyone says can hurt you.

Nassim Taleb

If you'd like to learn more about antifragility, the concept was developed by the great Nassim Taleb and his book, Antifragile, is the place to start.

Share on
cegfilterplus copy 6
cegfilterplus copy 5
Group 3 Copy 2 1
Group 3 Copy 3
CopywritingLanding Page
#1 Marketing Newsletter”
Read by 130k
Hey, I'm Harry. Every Monday I share:
3 short examples
2 copywriting tips
1 favourite tweet
Marketers voted it the “#1 marketing newsletter”. 130k people enjoy it.
Try it
Dave Gerhadt
“My favourite newsletter on the web”
Dave Gerhadt
“The newsletter is so f***ing great!”
Dave Gerhadt
“Better than my marketing degree
Dave Gerhadt
“🦄🦄🦄 — Nuff said
Dave Gerhadt
“The best thing is it works
Dave Gerhadt
“How is this still free?
Dave Gerhadt
“A genius that actually gives a sh*t
Anne-Laure Le-Cnuff
“I have no regrets
Dave Gerhadt
Best newsletter I'm subbed to”
Dave Gerhadt
“You ALWAYS find something useful”
Dave Gerhadt
“No fluff marketing. Works right now
Dave Gerhadt
“Shit you actually want in your inbox”
Dave Gerhadt
“Sadly, there's only one Harry Dry”
Anne-Laure Le-Cnuff
“Most wisdom per newsletter of all time
Dave Gerhadt
“One of the best marketers I know”
Dave Gerhadt
One of the best things on the web”
Dave Gerhadt
“I can feel my brain getting smarter
Anne-Laure Le-Cnuff
“The Sir Alex Ferguson of marketing”
Dave Gerhadt
“I haven't read a bad one yet”
Dave Gerhadt
I wanna be Harry when I grow up”
Dave Gerhadt
Gems everywhere
Dave Gerhadt
Dangerous in the wrong hands”
Anne-Laure Le-Cnuff
“If you don’t read Marketing Examples you aren’t really a marketer
Dave Gerhadt
“I literally can't wait for new issues”
Dave Gerhadt
“Multiple notifications so I never miss it
Dave Gerhadt
“The only newsletter I share with every person that joins my team”