Matt Sommer

QUICK SHOT: Do you have a million-dollar idea?

Do you believe that you have inspirations that expand beyond the same-old-same-old? Let’s call them… game changers… a new vision for abundance… overdrive realized.

With all the rigors of the day-to-day, we can often get swallowed up in the tyranny of the urgent. We’re so busy just trying to stay ahead of the everyday challenges, that possibility takes a back seat.

But when creativity engines are released… oh, what marvels can be generated! Ideas so expansive they leave small behind. Here are some down-to-earth examples that reaped out-of-this-world success.

Case Study #1: We try harder.

Avis Ad

Of course, we all know this iconic campaign. But what led to it?

The Challenge:

Avis was in trouble. Their main competitor, Hertz, had an ad-spend that was five times bigger. The Avis fleet was not newer than its rival’s, it did not have more rental locations and its rates weren’t cheaper.

Famed adman Bill Bernbach of DDB told Avis chief executive, Robert Townsend, “If you promise to run whatever we recommend, every creative in my shop will want to work on your account.”

Paula Green, a DDB copywriter, took up the challenge and came up with a slogan that went completely against the prevailing Madison Avenue philosophy: that ads must never acknowledge a brand weakness. Her line, “We try harder,” was the catalyst for one of the most famous campaigns in advertising history.

The Result:

Within a year, Avis had turned a $3.2m loss into a $1.2m profit – its first in 13 years. This wasn’t just a million-dollar idea. It was a $4.4m flash of brilliance! (That’s a $37.7m turnaround in today’s dollars.)

See: History of advertising: No 177 – Robert Townsend’s all-staff memo

Case Study #2: got milk?

Got Milk

Another classic.

The Challenge:

According to the California Milk Advisory Board, from 1980 to 1993 annual milk consumption in California dropped from 30 to 24.1 gallons of milk per person. One of its most memorable campaigns was ‘‘Milk. It Does A Body Good.’’ Despite such efforts, milk was losing business to larger beverage makers.

Jeff Goodby, the co-chairman of the ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, suggested building a campaign around his theory that the only time consumers really wanted milk was when they had run out of it. ‘‘Persuading people who are not doing something to do it (whether again or for the first time) tends to be harder than persuading people who are already doing it to do it more often.’’ Goodby then challenged his agency’s creatives to develop stories of people who needed milk more than others. “got milk?” was born.

The Result:

In one year there was a swing of 5.3 percent, or 40 million gallons, or $100 million dollars. Not just a million-dollar idea; a $100m thunderclap!

See: Marketing Campaign Case Studies – “Got Milk? Campaign”

Case Study #3: Truth Campaign

Truth Campaign

Breakout ideas don’t just work for consumer for-profit efforts. Consider the Truth initiative, an anti-smoking public service campaign.

The Challenge:

Rather than taking a ‘‘just say no’’ approach that would likely prove counterproductive, the marketers tried to channel youths’ natural rebelliousness by directing it against the practices of the tobacco companies. The television commercials were confrontational and controversial, as well as a call to action. One spot, for example, showed teens delivering hundreds of stuffed body bags to the New York headquarters of Philip Morris, representing the deaths they said the company was responsible for. ‘‘Approaching ‘truth’ as a brand like Marlboro or Camel, the umbrella campaign is a guerrilla-style war that attacks on multiple, psychological levels and, literally, takes its message to the streets.’’

The Result:

Between 2000 and 2002, the number of young people between the ages of 12 and 17 who smoked decreased from 28.8 percent to 18 percent. An estimated 300,000 fewer teens took up smoking during that period.

See: Marketing Campaign Case Studies – “Truth Campaign”

So what’s your big idea?

Maybe you think you don’t have one. Or maybe what you imagine keeps getting compromised by the conventional. Or maybe you need fellow vision casters who can help bring those ideas to life.

BDI is in the business of not just thinking outside the box, but also creating new boxes. We apply this not just to creative, but to new breakthrough strategies as well. We’re idea incubators and vision maximizers. Our team is compelled by the simple idea that the extraordinary should be the norm… and when you unbind possibility, you release unbounded generosity.

Do we have million-dollar ideas? You bet. And we’d love to share them with you. But more important than the money raised are the untold thousands who suffer and now can get the help they need.

And that idea realized to its fullest… is golden.

Read last week’s Quickshot: Best of Quick Shot 2020 – 5 MUST-READ articles ››

Thinking about how to elevate your big ideas? Don’t miss this recent Inspire article, “Why your nonprofit needs a consultant”>>

  • Matt Sommer

    Matt Sommer, VP/Creative

    For over 30 years, Matt has created campaigns and helped raise money for nonprofit organizations, including World Vision, Joni and Friends, CBN, LIFE Outreach, Boy Scouts of America, Life Without Limbs, Joyce Meyer Ministries and The Salvation Army. Matt has also produced creative for corporate brands, including Coke, 7-Up, Kleenex, Purina and has written for major network television including CBS & Lifetime.

    Your vision is unique. But your messaging can get lost in a media-saturated world. Matt’s passion is helping clients execute communication that is as big and bold as their vision. By touching hearts with your distinct message, across all touchpoints, response magnifies.

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