Q: "A public relations, marketing, advertising or HR discovery that gave you that ah-ha moment?"
Remember the climactic scene in Napoleon Dynamite? After suffering through countless degradations and Summer Wheatley’s snobbery, we are rewarded with his dance masterpiece, and, for a brief, shining moment, justice.
What made that moment so special? His dance revealed a penetrating, blinding truth - when friends stick together, they can change the world.
In a Leo Burnett conference room, I had my own road to Damascus moment. With the recent sins of Pepsi on our millennial minds, a brave team member asked a Leo Burnett executive brand planner how the ad agency ensures it does not inadvertently create the next viral firestorm when communicating with its customers.
Without hesitation, the executive snapped “Are you kidding? Our GOAL is to be polarizing!” After years of digesting New York Times articles in safe spaces, I was sitting in my entire seat, but I only needed the edge. In 2017, we can’t offend anyone, can we? Shouldn’t we put the bumper pads up in the lane before we bowl?
Like Napoleon did with his dance for the high school assembly, in an instant this 19-year veteran of advertising and marketing disabused me of some long-held misperceptions. She brought her message home with an example. “If you’re selling Porsches, don’t just say Porsche drivers are rich —instead, tee it up that Porsche drivers are &*^holes!”
Dramatic, but it makes the point. When it comes to marketing messages, death is truly “in the middle.” How can you communicate your message if you can’t even get someone’s attention?
We live in a PC world, which is actually a good thing. Differences need to be respected and embraced. But in Chicago I learned an unforgettable lesson. As a marketer, when you are fortunate enough to uncover a deep revealing insight that matters to your customer, it’s better to be RuPaul than Holden Caulfield — stand out and put some bass in your walk!