Ron Stablehorn is the brilliant solution to a simple problem. In 2006, Rolling Rock was an independent brewery with a passionate, but small following. Then it was bought by beer giant Anheuser Busch. The fear from fans was that the Rolling Rock legacy and personality would be perverted by the Anheuser Busch marketing machine. They would turn it into another Bud Light, with low brow humour and bikini babes.
How Rolling Rock addressed this issue was brilliant. Instead of trying to prove that this wouldn’t happen, they embraced this negative opinion. So what did they do? They created TV spots featuring the Rolling Rock “VP of Marketing” Ron Stablehorn. The ads were a PSA-style apology for a series of terrible ads that they had run and now pulled from the air. He apologized for ads featuring party guerrillas, man thongs and multiple baseball-to-the-groin hits. He even appeared on an interview on Spike TV to address these commercials.
So what did this do? It made millions of Americans (and at least one Canadian) wonder what the commercials that were “pulled off of the air” looked like. So they went to YouTube. And saw something like this:
The Pool Party
The Baseball Game
The results? They had 5.5 million hits on YouTube. And a total of 11.5 million video impressions. The best thing about it was that every one of the people who saw the video online had to actively find it. It wasn’t a passive interaction. It was engaging. Rolling Rock teased everyone with an idea on television and relied on people’s curiosity to drive them online. Brilliantly executed.
Life has been a little crazy. Whenever it gets a little out there I do one of three things: I exercise, I shop or, I read. Today, I present you with a read. Check out this article from David Trott’s blog. He’s a UK ad man. Think Mad Men with Windsor knots instead of skinny ties.
When I was a teenager I was a mod.
Everyone thinks all mods’ drove scooters and wore anoraks.
But actually that was West London, and came a bit later.
In East London, the whole point was to be different, and be first.
It was much more about creativity, and less about fighting.
The whole point was not to look like the mass of people.
Be different, and be first.
The sheep would all catch up later.
That was the rush.
Especially when those people started to take the mickey.
Because you knew that in about 6 months to a year, they’d be copying you anyway.
And they’d be wearing what they were laughing at now.
Isn’t that what creativity should be like?
Striving to be different, ahead of the game.
Not just striving to win an award for doing what conventional wisdom decrees we ought to be doing.
I prefer what Vinny Warren said.
Vinny is an Irishman working in New York.
He did the “Wassssssup” campaign for Budweiser, that caught on around the world.
He said that, if we were really doing our jobs, we should be AHEAD of the awards.
We should be doing work that they don’t even have awards for yet.
How great is that?
The most stylish mod I ever knew, was a guy called Bob Beer, from Mile End.
I once asked Bob what he thought real style was.
He said, “Anyone with a few bob can go down to Yves St. Laurent, pick out a suit, shirt, shoes, shades, and come out looking okay.
But REAL style is being able to walk into C&A and pick the one thing in the entire store worth having.”
True to his word, Bob used to buy his shoes from Annello & Davide in Covent Garden, but his white shirts from Marks & Spenser.
I think the really creative people in our business are like that.
Be different and be first.
Let all the sheep catch up later.
In certain context, being different is what you have to do to get noticed. You can’t just be 10% better than the guy next to you. Those will only produce marginal returns. To make the big leaps, you have to jump onto a different curve. Create your own category. The thing about this is that you need thick skin at the beginning. I remember when I started wearing vintage blazers when I was in university. One of my high school friends said that I looked like a hobo. Now he dresses like I did 5 years ago.
But is being different really what we should all be striving for? What about functionality and aesthetic? What good is being different if it’s not useful? Just some thoughts…
In our sweeping efforts to make the world a better place, we over think things. We focus on the most challenging problems that seem impossible to solve. In philanthropic pursuits, we often overlook the low hanging fruit – the problems that we can easily solve in the developing world with technology that already exists for cheap.
Basic sanitation in Cambodia basically, people don’t have proper places to poop. And they’re not educated on where and how to do it in a sanitary way. What does this mean?
Over 80% lack access to sanitation
Poor sanitation causes the death of 1.2 persons per hour, in a country with a population of only 13.8 million people.
Lack of sanitation costs 448 million US$ per annum – 7.2% GDP
Only 2.1% of the rural population in Cambodia has access to a toilet. People poop in the open. This is based on the belief that human poop is good for crops, however there is very little knowledge on the health risks associated with this practice. They consider it a natural process and do not think of the possible hazards associated with it.
The solution is pretty simple:
1. Build toilets.
2. Teach people how to use them.
The toilets will allow for the safe treatment of and sanitation of poop. Then it can be turned into fertilizer to be used on crops. The great thing about this education part of this project is that it’s an easily learned behaviour that sticks with people for life.
So Richard, this is a teaser. To learn more, email me here and I’ll see what I can do to set up a quick meeting. Or a talk over beer.
For my normal readers, what I’ve done today is take a long shot. I heard that Richard Branson was in town, and I’m trying to get him to visit Idea Drunk in order to pitch this idea.
One of the most terrifying experiences is to wake up on a Sunday morning with a pile of regrets of what you did the night before. You get chills down your spine and feel something deep in the pit of your stomach. Then you try to push the incidents out of your mind by distracting yourself with something else. Maybe you go for a run. Or make an elaborate breakfast.
But the truth of the matter is that regrets are good. They mean that you put yourself out there and took a chance. You may have not executed exactly as planned, but at least you had the balls to put it out there. And bravery and initiative are more often rewards than not. Let’s say that you walk into the office of the president of your company and try to pitch him an unsolicited new idea. He brings up a couple key flaws in your concept that pretty much kill it. You immediately regret not thinking things out. You feel stupid for wasting his time. You walk out with your tail between your legs. But this incident puts your on his (or her) radar. Most great leaders know that for each great idea, there are a thousand bad ones.
The key is to learn from your regrets. How did you execute poorly? What can you improve for next time? Then you use that exposure and experience to improve on your next pitch. The most difficult thing to do is to summon the courage to execute (and you’ve already proven that you can do that if you have regrets the next morning). The preparation and practice is easy. I leave you with a quote from Frank Zappa:
“It is better to have something to remember than nothing to regret.”
In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock for the past couple of weeks, this just in – we are in the midst of a global recession. Get out your umbrella, because it’s a shit storm. Governments, politicians and banks are debating about what to do … but I’ll be honest. I really don’t care about that. I care about professional sports. Yes, that’s right. During the most tumultuous market conditions in recent history, I care about the sports leagues, their billion dollar franchises and their millionaire players. This lead me to this question from Fast Company Magazine: Will sports teams earn more or less money during the economic downturn?
The answer is simple – only the good ones will make more money. Those are the teams that are able to deliver the winning feeling to their fans. During hard times, people turn to sports franchises as a means of feeling happiness and hope. People will think, “I just lost my job. That sucks. But the New York Giants just won the Super Bowl. Awesome.” People latch onto the victories and wins that their team provides. What does this do? It creates more passionate fans.
How Sports Leagues Take Advantage
There are always going to be teams that are losing. To overcome this, leagues should encourage people to expand their portfolio of teams. Then the leagues should make it easy to access and be adopted into the fandom of winning teams. They have to create stories around the teams and key players. They need to give people a reason to care. For example, in the MLB playoffs, the Toronto Blue Jays are clearly enjoying the early offseason. However, there is a story to tell to get Blue Jays’ fans to cheer for Philadelphia – Matt Stairs. He’s a former Jay who’s playing really well right now. And Philidelphia fans also booed Sarah Palin … which is enough reason for me.
The NHL is doing an excellent job of this by showcasing their star players. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals have been steadily growing their fan base by marketing two of the best players in hockey – Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin.
How Teams Take Advantage
Now how do the franchises take advantage of the realities of the new environment? Easy. The winning teams steal fans from the other professional sports franchises in their market. Let’s use Boston as an example. If the Red Sox (MLB), Patriots (NFL) and Celtics (NBA) all suck, but the Bruins (NHL) go on a run, than it gives the opportunity for the Boston Bruins to gain market share in an extremely crowded marketplace. They have the opportunity to go from the 4th sports attraction in New England to maybe the 1st or 2nd, depending on the season.
It’s an interesting opportunity. The recession is driving people to become more passionate fans … but only for winning teams.
Guerrilla artist Banksy has opened his first official exhibition in New York. The fake pet shop aims to question “our relationship with animals and the ethics and sustainability of factory farming”. It even has to animatronic hot dogs simulating “intimate” acts.
Banksy said: “New Yorkers don’t care about art, they care about pets. So I’m exhibiting them instead.”
This is stuff that definitely makes you stop, laugh and think. I’m a fan.
We’ve all been there. You’ve had a good night at the bar and you’ve successfully arrived back home. Yet, instead of going straight to bed, you think it’s a good idea to turn on your computer and see what’s going on on the internet. So, you check you email and have the “brilliant” idea to email an ex. You string together what you believe is hilariously poetic prose and then you pass out happy as a clam. And then you wake up the next morning with drunk-breath and immediate regret. Regret and shame. Shame that’s been documented and can be forwarded to all of your ex-girlfriend’s friends. But I digress…
Well, no more! Google released a useful new Gmail feature yesterday in its labs, which could help prevent the intoxicated from sending embarrassing late-night emails they “might” regret in the morning.
When activated, the program will force a user to solve a series of math problems before allowing any message to be sent. They are not terribly difficult, but do serve as an extra line of defense in what can be a very dangerous habit. The service is set by default to kick in only on weekend nights, but you can change the settings to apply whenever.
As for drunk dialing and texting… well, I’m not exactly an expert at preventing that. So, if you have some advice in that area, I’d be happy to hear it.
The image to the left is part of my friend’s exhibits at Toronto’s all-night arts festival Nuit Blanche. To get herself showcased in a prestigious celebration of the arts, she must be an artist! Maybe she works in advertising as a designer or something? Nope. She works as a suit. This art is just one of her creative outlets.
To develop your creativity, sometimes you just need to let it out. Let it run free, unbridled by purpose or goals. This is creativity in its purest form. At work, we are practiced at using creativity to solve a specific business problem. And this is useful, heck it’s my job! But there are always instances where you have to let go and lose yourself in a creative outlet.
A creative outlet is a white space to do whatever you want without specific goals. It can be used to express yourself, rant and rave, or be just for fun. The point is that it allows you to foster your non-work ideas. Then you take all of that inspiration, excitement and enthusiasm and apply it to a specific challenge.
Check out these examples of creative outlets. You could:
But most of all, have fun with it. Creative outlets are there to remind you why you like being creative. There are times when we get caught forcing ourselves to compromise our ideas to abide by legal requirements or client “suggestions”. With your creative outlet, the only person you have to answer to is yourself. And, I’ll be honest … sometimes I don’t even do that.
Fight Club is probably one of the most inspirational movies of all time. It challenges you to get off you ass and change something. Brian over at Lateral Action has interpreted the protagonist’s words to showcase how you can use that kick in the pants to jump start innovative thinking.
1. Tyler’s First Rule of Innovation:
“No fear. No distractions. The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.”
This is the most important lesson, and it’s the one people struggle with and resist. Tim Ferriss advocates the 80/20 rule of productivity, where you focus relentlessly on the 20% of the actions that lead to 80% of the return. People see this as nice in theory, but not practical.
But believe it or not, this is how I’ve been running my businesses for the last 10 years. I used to actually feel guilty because I wasn’t constantly “getting things done” at a maniacal pace, even though I was enjoying increasingly significant success each year. It’s only been in the last few years I’ve realized that this approach is essential for entrepreneurs and creative professionals of all stripes.
The 80/20 rule of productivity requires radical elimination, or letting that which does not matter to creative moves truly slide. Use that newfound time for creative thinking that leads to innovative action, and you will succeed, guaranteed.
2. Tyler’s Second Rule of Innovation:
“No fear! No distractions! The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide!”
Seriously. Don’t break the first two rules.
3. Tyler’s Third Rule of Innovation:
“I say never be complete, I say stop being perfect, I say let’s evolve, let the chips fall where they may.”
Let’s face it, when we break Tyler’s first two rules of innovation and distract ourselves with foolish productivity, it’s often because we’re afraid (which also violates Tyler’s first two rules). We’re afraid of failure, ridicule, risk, mediocrity, and perhaps even success itself.
If you’re going to evolve and grow as a creative person, you’re going to make mistakes. In fact, you should start making twice as many mistakes as soon as possible if you want to have an innovative breakthrough.
Make mistakes and let the chips fall where they may. You might like the landing.
4. Tyler’s Fourth Rule of Innovation:
“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
Oh, yeah don’t be afraid to make big mistakes. More importantly, don’t worry about everything going according to plan. In fact, if everything’s going according to plan, there’s a good chance nothing remarkable is getting done.
They say life is what happens while you’re making other plans. Innovation is what happens when you recognize when to change the plan and perhaps the entire game. Maybe your initial plan falls apart, or maybe you simply need to throw the current plan away.
Don’t let the plan restrict the freedom to have a game-changing idea, and act on it, at any time. Losing everything may be the best thing that ever happens to you.
5. Tyler’s Fifth Rule of Innovation:
“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your fucking khakis.”
When we talk about fear, risk, mistakes, and losing it all, what are we really afraid of? Are we defined by the stuff we own, or would we prefer to be defined by what we accomplish and create for the world?
I’m not saying give all your stuff away or take foolish risks that harm your family or yourself. I’m saying don’t let the stuff you own start to own you to the point that you can’t live the life you want to live and do the things you want to do.
6. Tyler’s Sixth Rule of Innovation:
“People do it everyday, they talk to themselves they see themselves as they’d like to be, they don’t have the courage you have, to just run with it.”
I bet you’ve got a great idea right now, bouncing around in your head. What are you going to do with it?
Be what you’d like to be, and do what you’d like to do it really is that simple. Having the courage to just run with it is the difference between a fulfilling life and a life full of regret.
7. Tyler’s Seventh Rule of Innovation:
“Sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken.”
On the other hand, wearing black hipster clothing and hanging in cafes smoking Gaulloises cigarettes does not make you creative. Buying a MacBook Pro and an iPhone doesn’t get it done either.
Creativity and innovation are mainly about hard work. It’s about constantly coming up with ideas and thinking through problems instead of vegging out. And it’s about taking action, plain and simple.
8. Tyler’s Eighth Rule of Innovation:
“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.”
First, you have to know, not fear, know that someday you are going to die. Until you know that, you have no sense of urgency. You think you have all the time in the world to do amazing things, but you may not live to see that particular someday.
So quit reading articles for a bit and go do what really needs to be done today.