The idea is the fuel in the car, the bullet in the gun, the jewel in the crown


Some years ago I went to meet the PR director of a big brand, which wanted to generate attention for a forthcoming launch.

He jumped right in and explained why he’d asked to see me: “We’re like a Formula One racing car”, he said. “We’re revving on the starting grid. We’re raring to go … All we’re missing is the idea … The idea is the petrol in the car.”

What he was referring to, of course, was the big idea for the launch – and specifically, the PR or marketing idea that would win the attention he needed.

On another occasion, I met a big marketing cheese from Heinz. He was wanting attention for a new vegetarian line.

(As an aside, one of the ideas that I ended up suggesting to him was to open the world’s first vegetarian butchery. He didn’t buy the idea but, a few years later, someone else did, if not from me … and “The Vegetarian Butcher” was recently voted the “Coolest Dutch Brand”.)

The reason that I mention the Heinz man is that the main thing that I remember from our meeting was the point at which he suddenly looked impatient and said … “Let’s talk about implementation later … What I’m interested in is the idea. The idea is what counts. The idea is the jewel.

I couldn’t help but agree with him – indeed, with both of the above folks.

They each put it differently but both were making the same point, which was that … it’s all very well having a product and a brand and a launch-date and a budget. But if you want attention, what’s really going to make the difference is not the size of your budget or the breadth of your contacts but the strength of your idea.

The point is that … everyone has a brand. Everyone (or, at least, everyone with any money) can buy ads. Everyone can shout, “Look at me”.

Everyone, however, does not have a great idea or the ability to generate one. And in the end, the idea is the fuel in the car, the bullet in the gun, the jewel in the crown – and ultimately, the money in the bank.

The idea is what makes the difference and works the magic and turns the base metal into gold.

The brand that gets the most attention, now more than ever, is the one with the best ideas.

Without an idea, you’re just another brand, standing in a busy street, shouting, “Look at me”.