August 7, 2018

The Week in BIG Ideas Volume 1


By Beverley Hammond
Founder & CEO


The world is just full of ideas!  Every week I am amazed at the innovations, solutions, designs, schemes and stories that originate from all around the corporate, public and not-for-profit sectors, across just about any channel and in any form.  Some are marketing ideas, some are business ideas, and some are just, well, BIG ideas!

As they get served up to me in various ways, I in turn, cannot help but share them with friends, family and colleagues.  I contemplate them.  I talk about them.  I ask myself and others, “How do you think that idea happened?” or, “How come nobody thought of it before?” Always, with great reverence for those purveyors of BIG thinking – no matter who they are or where they come from – I say, “Damn, I wish I’d thought of that.”

What I haven’t done is write about them. Today, I’ve added that to my repertoire.

Welcome to The Week in BIG Ideas. It’s a pretty simple and self-explanatory concept – an exploration of the three biggest ideas I have come across in the week.


BIG Idea #1: Ring My Bell


At Republic, any time we have a big ‘win’ someone “rings the bell” - a symbol of success for the agency and typically the precursor for some kind of celebration for the team.  It’s almost Pavlovian the way that sound elicits excitement among the group - our hearts race, we make some noise and then typically, shortly thereafter, someone cracks a beer in honour of the occasion.

At the money markets, the ringing of the bell dates back to 1871 when a Chinese gong replaced the gavel to signal the beginning of the trading day.  This eventually became a bell and then of course, some modern version.

In 1956, the first guest to ring the bell was Leonard Ross, a 10-year-old boy who won $100,000 on “The Big Surprise” after answering questions about the operations of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).  In the ‘80s, Reagan gave it a ring and then since 1995, when the NYSE introduced bell-ringing as part of a marketing strategy for themselves and for their listed or listing companies, stock markets have seen a steady stream of corporate titans, movie stars, sports figures and even Mr. Potato Head ringing the opening bell.  Now some even sign up for the closing bell – but for obvious reasons that's a somewhat riskier and less popular opportunity

This past week Sonos – the smart home sound system company - announced its IPO on the Nasdaq (SONO) with all of the customary fanfare: a spot on CNBC Squawk Box and a tour of other business media for the CEO; what Nasdaq calls the Market Bell Ceremony - a reception in advance of the 9:30 opening, speeches, a group of key personnel on the podium, lots of clapping and confetti; and, of course, the ringing of the bell to open the market.

But unlike all of those corporations who’ve rung before, Sonos did something different.  Something that won’t just impact their ability to get awareness around their IPO.  Something that will have lasting impact. Sonos didn't just ring the bell – they created a new bell for the Nasdaq.

According to The Verge, Sonos promises that “the new bell will continue to ring at Nasdaq, where countless more forward-thinking companies will launch their IPOs.”

Re-imagining a new sound for the Nasdaq bell not only reinforced the Sonos positioning as the future of (home) sound, but by developing content around it, the company created a unique narrative they were able to optimize across owned, shared and earned channels well beyond a typical IPO story. They not only gave their public launch more ‘legs’ as we say in our business, but they gave the Nasdaq bell its own story, a win-win for both Nasdaq and Sonos and a BIG Idea!

The new Nasdaq bell is not only a fascinatingly cool modulation that has a really compelling back story, but, as you might have noticed, it ends with the sound of a spinning coin. Because, as the good folks at The Verge put it, “money.”

On its first day of trading, SONO finished up 32% at $19.91.


BIG Idea #2: I Want ‘A Pizza’ That


Is there anything more commonplace than ordering a pizza?  Probably not. In fact, it’s estimated that about three billion pizzas are sold in the USA in a year.

Of course, over time, the pizza experience has been remade end-to-end, from the shape of the pizza, to the crust to the toppings and everything in between – square, thin, baked, deep dish, deep fried, with beans, with chocolate, even alligator meat. There are a variety of different delivery methods too - driverless cars included; and then there are all of those memorable jingles, “967-11-11 call Pizza Pizza Hey Hey Hey” “439 oh oh oh oh Pizza Nova” and [insert your best British accent here] “it was a rainy day at Pizzaville  ...Free sex free sex” and all that.

So, what is left to differentiate pizza?

Well, it turns out there is another recipe for ingenuity.  It’s not the pizza, it’s not the marketing and it’s not the delivery.  Nope.  It's the simplest most overlooked aspect of the pizza experience.  The packaging.

So *snaps* for our friends at John St. for their work with Boston Pizza that saw the creation of “BP in Bed” - the world’s first pizza box that also becomes a table for eating pizza in bed. The Father’s Day launch of this hilarious and smart idea was followed this week with another idea – The Pizza Patio.

Now, this isn’t some patio take-over in Liberty Village.  This is a patio INSIDE the pizza box.  Remember that little “table” that keeps the cheese of the pizza from sticking to the top of the pizza box?  Well, now it has chairs around it.  Et voila The Pizza Patio.

I cannot say enough about how much I love this stunt.  It’s clever, unique and memorable.  Plus it’s so obvious that when I rhetorically ask “How come nobody thought of it before?” Somewhere, somebody (or lots of somebodies) thought that little plastic ‘thingy’ looked like a table.

I will date myself when I say that I grew up in the age of the tiny collectible china figures in the Red Rose Tea boxes. As a kid I couldn't wait for another box of tea to get opened around our house to see what strange little animal was inside. Since then of course, cereal and a host of other CPG products have used similar ploys to attract children and by extension their parents’ pocketbooks to their brands.

This BIG Idea is the big kid version.  Now if I could only order a drink on that patio.  Hey, John St, did you hear that?


BIG Idea #3: Lean In (and to the Right)


No matter where you identify on the political spectrum, or what your feelings about Donald Trump and MAGA might be, I think you will agree that BI#3 is worthy of a place in this blog, even if only for the clever way it clearly communicates its intended message. It really leans in!

Quite obviously, Ron Desantis, Republican member for the House of Representatives and Florida Gubernatorial candidate (which means he is running for Governor of Florida) is an unabashed Trump fan, to put it mildly. As the self-proclaimed “#1 Conservative” in Florida, Desantis undoubtedly believes, and the numbers surely support that, amongst his constituents at least, this is a selling point.

At 39, it’s safe to assume he is at the youthful end of the ‘old boys club’ spectrum and sees the fact that being a young man with a beautiful wife and young family is an additional positive for voters.

In this, the first ad of his campaign, he brings those two ‘benefits’ together in a deliberately tongue-in-cheek fashion.  The result is a spot that has been picked up, panned, praised, deemed bizarre, and more.  Let’s just say simply it has been talked about a lot, across the world. There is nowhere you won’t find this ad. 

The candidate doesn't even really need to put any paid media behind this creative – just releasing it with the intent of placing it, has earned exponential coverage with a media value greater than most campaigns could probably afford to buy.

Honestly, I laughed out loud!  It is such a refreshing change from the “same-old, same-old” of boring or divisive political advertising.  So for all of those reasons – hate it or love it, like him or not – it simply cannot be denied, this is a BIG Idea.

In the time it has taken you to read this blog, there are hundreds of new BIG ideas being hatched, appearing online, and coming on-stream. I can’t wait to hear about them and share them in upcoming missives -- be sure to always keep those brains churning.


Think BIG!