Last week, Malachy the Pekingese won “Best in Show” at the 2012 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. From the time that the news spread online, the comments came fast and furious about his looks, ranging from “adorable” to “ugly” to “strange” to “mop-like”.
To be expected, this Pekingese was not the kind of dog/breed everyone would be expected to automatically agree on as cute, like the Cesar dog food mascot, or either of the two beagles I had in my childhood home, who were pretty much “classic beagle” types and looked like their photos belonged on dog product labels, too.
But Malachy the Pekingese is different.
So different that he – pardon the pun – got tongues wagging.
His win got people engaged and commenting, eliciting strong opinions and judgments long after the Westminster judges had made their final selection. There’s a teachable moment for the advertising community here – maybe even a lesson about life in general.
Different gets people talking.
Novelty gets noticed.
The unusual invites comment and opinion.
Different is exciting.
How many times have you been in a meeting where an idea is so “different” that it gets shot down before it really has a chance? Imagine all of the ideas that “creative” came up with that ended up red-lighted when they could have been green-lighted?
This is true about life also. We let ourselves fall into old and comfortable patterns, take the safe and familiar path, and find ourselves saying, “I’ll have my usual” when we go to our favorite restaurants. Habits – healthy or unhealthy – sometimes have a way of stopping us from inviting novelty into our lives. The usual – the normal – is just so comfy sometimes.
We reach for the same style sweater each time we go shopping, maybe just with buttons that vary a little bit.
In advertising, it’s easy to default into “go safe” mode when there’s the pressure of a big account. But make no mistake:
Playing it too safe can be dangerous – dangerously boring and ordinary, that is.
Many of my friends and colleagues in the Ad biz were vocal about being underwhelmed by most of this year’s Super Bowl and Grammy commercials. A lot of them played it safe, used old formulas.
Of course there were standouts, such as the Chrysler Ad during the Super Bowl and the Chipotle Ad during the Grammys. Those commercials were like a breath of fresh air – they worked well because of their uniqueness. Their novelty did not go unnoticed. The buzz about those ads lasted long after the TV shows in which they appeared ended, and enjoyed a second wind online, especially on YouTube.
Westminster winner Malachy has similar staying power. People were fascinated by him when he won, and they’re still talking about him online.
It’s the power of different.
Unique: 1. Ordinary: 0.