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Friday, February 27, 2009

Doing Well and Good at the Same Time

How do you make video that gets noticed? By thinking outside the box.

As reported in the WSJ, auto maker Fiat was strapped for cash and struggling to promote their brand. So a few years ago they came up with an audacious but attention-getting concept: show their Lancia brand as helping improve society. That's right, buy this car and make the world a better place. So they made a commercial featuring their cars and human rights activists, in a spot supporting San Suu Kyi, a democracy activist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize living under house arrest in Myanmar.

And, because Fiat presents it as a public service announcement, networks in nine European countries (Fiat's big market) agreed to show it free of charge.

So let's think about this for a minute. So often we think the easiest way to get from point A to point B is a straight line. But what I see is that the memorable, standout moments come from the unusual and the unexpected. It's that juxtaposition of what you assume and the surprising discovery that make work stand out. It could be a new way of thinking, a new way of describing the commonplace or using familiar images words or music in an innovate way.

Years ago I worked a Governor's re-election campaign. He was an old time pol and what's worse, he looked like one. Middle age, wide of girth, and somewhat dull. So to give him some verve and buoyancy in his commercials, I used classical music in a celebratory style, like Vivaldi.

Suddenly, he had a friendly gravitas. The exuberant music made him seem fun, accessible and active.

Just like the pseudo-somber Fiat spot makes the Lancia seem a suitable platform for democracy's heroes. And taking the approach they did garnered a lot of attention and free publicity. Doing good and doing well, right?

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