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Thursday, January 20, 2011

day 17: ted talks, springfree & real beauty

I went out with one of my closest friends tonight to a small PR party for Indigo's new eReading device, Kobo. I didn't truthfully care much about the product, but I liked the people involved (my two favourite Langdons). On the way home with my friend we talked marketing, successes she had had reaching people, and she reminded me of a video I saw a little over a year ago. It was a TED Talk (and if you don't know what TED Talks are, stop going to college/university and use the money you saved on a good internet connection because I guarantee you'll find more inspiration there). It was a talk about how great leaders inspire us. It's one of many truly inspiring videos I've seen through (including their free podcasts, which have oft left me in tears on the subway, ever so casually seeming to rub my eyes of sleep), and you can view it by clicking HERE. In fact, I refuse to address you directly until you've taken 18 minutes out of your day to watch the entire thing.

It's okay, I'll wait…

   So, amazing right? I don't even have anything to add really, I just want to spend a blog gushing and agreeing. When my friend mentioned it and the memories of that video started coming back to me, it made me realize how true it was, even in that very moment. Here I was, engaged with my friend, talking about her work with trampolines. Don't get me wrong, I love my friend, and I'm pretty into trampolines (we used to use them to jump into pools), but the PR work around it doesn't really interest me that much. Or rather, it shouldn't. I noticed, however, that over the course of her working there I've gotten to know the kind of company it is (even met the owner at their christmas party), and I have become genuinely invested in it's success. 

   It should be noted that I know if she were working on, say, toasters, I wouldn't care. If her job was to lead PR campaigns for dell computers? I still wouldn't care (I'm starting to sound like a terrible friend, but I mean I wouldn't care about the company, not what's happening in her life). What I like about the company she works for, however, is the integrity and the attitude. Everything she tells me and everything I've seen leads me to believe that at it's heart, this company is concerned with safety and quality. They create a product designed, not to compete with other trampolines as a "product line" (in fact, it doesn't in anything but ideology), but to solve a real problem in an industry that is putting thousands of children in hospitals (100,000 kids a year in the U.S. alone to give an idea). They do it by putting ingenuity, safety and a relentless demand for THE highest quality at the core of their existence. They don't build a product and then jump through the hoops to help it pass quality inspection. Their bottom line is safety and quality and then they focus on everything else. What a perfect and obvious concept. What a shame only a few companies seem to really grasp it.

   Watching the video again today made me think of those few and it brought to mind a really memorable video from 2006 by Dove from their "Campaign for Real Beauty". Before this "commercial", I didn't care about Dove. I wouldn't have been able to tell you if I remembered using their product, what it was like, I might not even have mentioned it if you had asked me to recall soap brands. After watching this video, which struck a real chord with me, the company has been on my mind everytime I walk through the hygiene section of a store. I some times buy new products they make just in the HOPES that I'll like it enough to use it regularly. You can't buy that kind of loyalty. If I won $1000 from them in 2006, would I remember the money? Hell yeah. Would I care about the brand? Not in the least. But give me 60 seconds of cheaply produced video and you have me for life. Because companies don't buy my loyalty. They earn it by showing they believe the same things I believe. It's not the WHAT. It's the WHY. So, so true.

   One more example I would have to give is Google. The interesting thing about Google is, they've had big flops. Remember Google Buzz? Anyone get a GoogleWave account? I sure did! I was so excited for this great new frontier of web messaging, and in the end, it tanked. You know what? I'm just as excited for whatever they put out next. I believe in the why of Google, just like I do in Dove, or Apple, or Valve. These are all companies, like SpringFree, that excel at resonating with their audience because they understand that the why comes first. The "what" is awesome; they have really cool trampolines, they look like a blast. The "why" though? Pfff. Watch the video, then watch it again. Send it to your friend, then watch it again. When you're done, investigate TED Talks for other things to laugh/cry/get inspired about. This be metheus, signing off.

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