How some of the most successful advertising nearly never gets used for fear it will fail

I was reading this week about an advertisement that nearly never happened.

The advertisement was rejected by the top people in the company because they felt it wouldn’t work and could get some negative comment, it was too radical, too different.

But the marketing manager managed to persuade his colleagues, and they tried it.  It was a stunning success and is still talked about several years later.

Yet it nearly didn’t get used.

And the fact is that when it comes to advertising most companies tend to be very risk averse. The advertising represents their company and their product or service to the wider world, and so the feeling grows that it has to represent the owners or directors of the company too.  It has to be safe.

But there’s a problem with this view, because the people who own the company see the company and its products in a totally different way from the way the potential customers see the product or service.

Indeed when I have this discussion with firms that sell to schools they often tell me that teachers have a particular view of the company and the product and they need to stick to that.

So, being a rather belligerent kind of guy I then ask, “how do you know how people feel about you?” and I ask both about customers and non-customers.

And most of the time the answers are vague – because the truth is that most firms don’t really know too much about how either their customers or those who have never used their product or service feel about them.

Which raises the question: what are we to do?

Fortunately there is a straightforward answer.  People who buy product A instead of product Z, usually do so because of habit.  If your advertising can break a person’s habit, there is a chance of getting a sale.

But habits are very difficult to break – so you need to do different things and approach the advertising in different ways.  Generally speaking it is the bold step into a different approach to your advertising that can bring in new customers, rather than a minor change or shouting the word “NEW!” or “SALE!” one more time.

If you would like to see what an alternative approach to advertising your product or service could look like, send a copy of a recent advert to and we’ll sketch out an idea for you. No charge, no obligation.  It is just to show you what the alternative could look like.

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