Yesterday I read a quote by one of my heroes, George Lois.
“I don’t listen to the marketing guys, their ambitions are too small.
They just want to notch the sales up an inch or two.
I want to do ads that change the world.”
Here’s an illustration of what he meant by that.
Years ago, in New York, he had a problem.
His account was Renault, and their biggest seller at that time was The Dauphine.
Every year, the dealers had to sell out all of last year’s models to make room for the new models to arrive.
The trouble is, no one really wants last year’s car, so they took months to shift.
Dealers would start off cutting $500 off, and end up cutting up to $1,500 off, just to get rid of them.
George Lois turned the whole thing around.
He thought “No one wants last year’s car, but everyone loves a bargain.”
So he bought a couple of tins of Band Aids and a pen-knife.
Then he went around the Renault dealers in New York putting a little tiny nick in the paintwork of each of the cars.
Somewhere out of sight and hard to find: under the wing or behind the bumper.
Then he put a Band Aid over the nick.
Then he ran an ad saying:
IF YOU CAN FIND THE NICK IN THE PAINTWORK OF A RENAULT DAUPHINE, WE’LL GIVE YOU $500 OFF.
The cars sold out before lunch on the day the ad ran.
People couldn’t believe they could get $500 off, just for spotting a little tiny nick in the paintwork.
George Lois didn’t depend on the brief to do his thinking for him.
He didn’t just run ads saying, $500 0FF RENAULT DAUPHINS.
He didn’t take the account man’s or the planner’s word for what the problem was.
They’re not creative.
If we can be bothered.