As I was dusting off the Grit from Grittymania this past week, I was transported back to 40 years ago with the Phanatic’s debut. There are so many similarities to Gritty’s birth and the Phanatic’s arrival in the city of Brotherly Love back in 1978. The one binding constant with both reminds us that Fun is a powerful selling tool!
When we started Raymond Entertainment in Jan of 2000 our tag line was “Nothing is more powerful than a message that entertains.” Here are three wonderful examples to prove how fun will help your organization market and sell.
Fun with the Phanatic
Bill Giles was the brilliant mind behind the Phanatic. He understood that everyone connected to the project must be focused on fun. As he reviewed the initial Phillie Phanatic designs from Bonnie Erickson his response was “funnier…has to be funnier.” When he received negative feedback from inside the Phillies executives, he would simply say it will be fun. In fact, his prime directive to me when I asked what he wanted the Phanatic to do he said “David, just have some G-rated fun and it will work.”
When designing a unique marketing asset for you company remember, first and foremost, it needs to be an exercise in Fun from beginning until roll out! Bill Giles knew the Phanatic would not be a success unless everyone who touched it would have fun.
Fun with Fluorochemicals
Doug Johnston, Director of Sales and Marketing for DuPont in 1995, coveted PepBoys as a potential new client. It could be an $8M per annum account. To do so he had a difficult challenge ahead.
DuPont sold fluorochemicals, the ingredient in refrigerants for auto air conditioning systems. Due to government regulations, all fluorochemicals had to be the exact same formula. So DuPont was marketing and selling exactly the same product as his competition, and the competition was selling it to Pep Boys for about 20% less. When Doug asked Pep Boys’ Senior Purchasing Manager what it would take to get his business he told Doug all he had to do was to beat the competitor’s price.
Doug knew he wouldn’t be able to accommodate that request, so he changed the subject to the big annual PepBoys conference. Pep Boys was excited about the opportunity to introduce their new CEO at this conference. It was vital for the new CEO to be introduced effectively. During that conversation Doug discovered they did not have a keynote speaker engaged but were desperately searching for a well-known speaker who would be just the right fit. DuPont and Doug had a great relationship with Jeff Gordon because Dupont sponsored his NASCAR team. Doug proposed a deal to the CEO. If he got Jeff Gordon the be their keynote speaker, would he consider giving DuPont their business? Done! Jeff Gordon understood the value of fun and focused on telling hysterical stories about his rise to NASCAR fame. The conference turned out to be the best ever produced by PepBoys and their new CEO was thrilled. DuPont had a prized new client and Jeff Gordon became a huge PepBoys fan!
If you can connect your organization’s messaging to fun it will help you beat your toughest competition! Dupont’s investment in NASCAR was less about branding and more about valuable fun and entertainment.
Fun with Fur
During my first meeting with the Philadelphia Flyers to discuss a new character brand I was sure their new mascot was going to be a success.
At that point we hand no idea what the character was going to look like or what his name would be. None of that mattered to me because they already were armed with the ammunition they needed. First, they knew the negative backlash from Flyers and Philadelphia fans would come. Second, they not only were prepared for it but they were committed to a youth development strategy and would not be deterred by negative kickback. The rest I felt would be easy after understanding the Flyers were committed to the project.
But the overwhelming and unexpected national success of Gritty including over 90M media impressions was due to the Flyers brilliance in embracing the negativity when it came. Simply put, the Flyers had fun with the disapproval. If the response was creative, no matter how negative, the Flyers retweeted and shared it through Gritty’s social media posts. The harder Gritty seemed to fall in the eyes of social media trolls, the funnier it got! When the “professional” comedians recognized the fertile ground Grittymania could produce, the race was on and Gritty was a national phenomenon.
When you receive negative push back from your message of fun remember that embracing it could produce unexpected positive results. As counterintuitive as it seemed the Flyers instinctively knew sharing Gritty’s detractor’s negative glee would raise their brand above the fray and more importantly…above the noise!
Remember….we can all use FUN to SELL!