WE NEED SOME GUYS FROM BROOKLYN
I was talking to an American the other day.He was a big, loud, funny guy and he had on a nice suit.
He was Jewish, and he was from Brooklyn.
He was in the oil import/export trade, and I asked him how business was.He said, “It’s really interesting: these WASPY guys from the CIA came to see me.”I asked him what they wanted.He said, “These super-straight, buttoned-down guys came to my house.They said they’d noticed that I did a lot of travelling to the middle east.They wanted to know if I’d gather intelligence for them.”I said, “What did you say?”He said, “What do you think, I’m crazy? I told them I wouldn’t actively go out of my way, but if I saw anything I thought they could use, I’d let them know about it.”I said, “What did they say to that?”He said, “They asked what sort of thing I thought I could spot that might be useful.”I said, “What did you tell them?”He said, “Usually when the main fuel dump is half full they call up one of my tankers to come in and top it up.Supposing the fuel dump is completely empty, and they want the tankers to come and refill it? That could be because they’ve just filled up all their military vehicles ready for an invasion. I said I could tip them off about that?”I said, “What did they say?”
He said, “They were very impressed. They said that was really clever thinking and where exactly were these oil dumps?And that’s when I realised, the CIA is never going to be any good until we get some guys from Brooklyn running it.”
I feel the same way about advertising.
Everybody’s studying marketing, reading the case histories, learning the rules.Everyone’s heads are full of what they are and aren’t allowed to do.So everyone is doing pretty much the same as everyone else.
One of the things you learn in Brooklyn is not to do that.Not to play by the rules.In the poorest part of a big city the rules are the toughest guy wins.So if you’re not the toughest guy how can you win?You learn to use your brain instead of your fists.You learn to out think people.You learn to turn things to your advantage.
And that’s exactly what we should do in advertising.
How can we out think the competition?How can we turn what looks like a problem into an advantage?An unfair advantage.Because all advantage is unfair.
Otherwise it wouldn’t be an advantage.
I was walking through Hampstead this morning on the way to work.A father was helping his son into school with his sports kit.“May the best team win” he said as he waved goodbye.
I thought, you wouldn’t hear that in Brooklyn.