A weekly newsletter on creativity, ideas, innovation and invention
Tuesday, 23 March 2004
Hello and welcome to another issue of Report 103, your weekly
newsletter on Creativity, ideas, innovation and invention.
A reminder, if you have news about creativity, please feel free to
forward it to me for potential inclusion in Report103.
UNMARKETING THE COMPETITION
Karl Rove, President George Bush's “political advisor” apparently
got his political start in 1970 in Chicago where he walked into the campaign
headquarters of Alan Dixon, a Democrat running for state treasurer in Illinois.
Mr. Rove hung around for a while, picked up 1000 sheets of campaign stationary
and disappeared. Shortly thereafter, Chicago's red light district and soup kitchens
were awash with 1000 invitations offering “free beer, free food, girls
and a good time for nothing" to anyone who showed up at Dixon's campaign
During the 1994 gubernatorial election in Texas, sitting Democrat Anne Richards
was expected to win. At the peak of the campaign, a supposed polling agency
started calling voters asking the question: "Would you be more or less
likely to vote for Governor Richards if you knew her staff is [sic] dominated
by lesbians?" Although this stunt has been attributed to Mr. Rove, there
is no proof he was responsible.
Such behaviour, of course, would not be legal in normal advertising in America.
But, for whatever reason, political advertising is not subject to the same restrictions
as commercial advertising. This allows politicians to be really creative in
In China, on the other hand, commercial laws are new and rarely enforced. Dirty
tricks go on all the time in marketing.
One of the more aggressive marketing actions of British American Tobacco's
(BAT) operation in China was to buy up stocks of the competition's cigarettes,
hold them until they became mouldy and then release them back into the market.
Asimco – a large foreign investor in China in the early 1990s –
invested in a number of car component factories and breweries. One of their
best managers was a chap named Mr. Sha, who ran a rubber parts factory in Anhui
province. In fact, he was so good he set up his own competing factory nearby.
When Asimco found out, things got nasty. Mr. Sha pulled defective products from
his own assembly line, put them in Asimco boxes and sent them to Asimco customers.
While we sympathise with the victims of what I am calling unmarketing the competition
campaigns, it is hard not to admire the innovative thinking behind the perpetrators.
These unmarketing the competition campaigns cost substantially less then legitimate
marketing campaigns and can have devastating effects on the victims, which often
translates into benefits for the perpetrators.
Outside politics and developing countries with weak legal systems, such campaigns
are, of course, illegal. Nevertheless, as a creative marketing exercise, they
are brilliant. Take a half hour to an hour and consider the following:
- How would you unmarket your competition?
- What would be the best way for your competition to unmarket your company?
- If your competition succeeded in point two – what would you do by
way of damage control?
- Do the answers to these questions suggest alternative legitimate marketing
The result should be a somewhat different perspective on your marketing strategy
and, with any luck, a few new marketing ideas.
The Guardian (newspaper, on-line version) http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1165037,00.html
“A Survey of Business in China”; The Economist [magazine], 20-26
March 2004 issue
“Mr. China” [book] by Tim Clissold
Anyone who knows me will know that I am an obsessive walker. Almost every day
I go for a 45-90 minute walk or bicycle ride. In particular, when I need ideas,
have to make a complicated decision, need to clear my head or simply have too
much energy: I go for walk.
And whenever I go for a walk, I bring a small notebook, or index cards, and
a pen. That way, when I have an idea – I can promptly note it down.
There are a number of reasons why walking helps me – and many other people
to think. Firstly, walking is about one of the healthiest things you can do
– or so it seems. According to the Ramblers (A British charity devoted
to walking; see: http://www.ramblers.org), walking can...
- Reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and stroke
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce high cholesterol and improve blood lipid profile
- Reduce body fat
- Enhance mental well being [my emphasis]
- Increase bone density, hence helping to prevent osteoporosis
- Reduce the risk of cancer of the colon
- Reduce the risk of non insulin dependant diabetes
- Help to control body weight
- Help osteoarthritis
- Help flexibility and co-ordination hence reducing the risk of falls
When the body feels good, I reckon it tries to return the favour by helping
one think well.
At the mental level, motion and forward progress help the mind progress through
problems, issues, ideas and more. At the same time, a stream of images and scraps
of drama we witness as we walk provide inspiration. Cities tend to provide energy
and activity which can excite while the country side offers more beautiful scenery,
peacefulness and quiet dramas which inspire.
Last, but not least, walking gently shakes and jiggles the brain cells, helping
them to shake off old ideas and think about new ones.
Next time, you need a good idea. Grab a pen and some paper, shove them in your
pocket and walk. And if you are in management, encourage members of your team
to take walks. But do not think of it as time away from work. On the contrary,
it may be their most productive thinking time of the day.
BRAINSTORM TOOL UPGRADE
We've just upgraded Sylvia, our web BrainStorming tool that allows you to brainstorm
with others on-line. Most of the upgrade work was in the back-end, making Sylvia
more robust. We've also fixed up the overall design to make Sylvia easier to
Version 2.0 of Sylvia allows you to run traditional brainstorming sessions
over the net with up to 100 people. Sylvia is an effective tool for: brainstorming
corporate issues with colleagues from multiple offices around the country –
or the world; brainstorming an issue following a conference; bringing favoured
clients, suppliers and business partners into idea generating activities; and
Sylvia is true “software on demand” in that you pay only for actual
sessions you use – rather than having to buy the software or tie yourself
into a long-term contract. As a result, Sylvia is very cost effective. You can
also try Sylvia out free of charge for groups of up to three people (although
as a Report103 subscribers you are welcome to run a larger trial session. E-mail
me privately to discuss). See http://www.jpb.com/sylvia/
for more info.
Let's finish this week's issue of Report 103 with a quote from Linus
“The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas.”
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