Big Brains, The Bee Gees, Bravery and Branding

“If at first the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.”  Albert Einstein

When the movie Saturday Night Fever was in the works, company executives visited the Bee Gees to hear some new songs they had written, hoping that some could be used in the soundtrack.  According to the band, the executives (who were planning to call the film Tribal Rites Of A Saturday Night) had little good to say.

They thought “How Deep Is Your Love” should be sung by a woman.  They wanted to change the title of “Night Fever” to “Saturday Night,” even though there were many songs with that title, including a recent hit by the Bay City Rollers.  One of them sneered that “Stayin’ Alive” sounded too much like “Buried Alive.”  None of them heard a hit.  And when the band suggested changing the name of the movie to Saturday Night Fever, they were told it sounded like the title of a porn film.

The executives, of course, were proven wrong.  The soundtrack sold 25 million copies – still the record – and won a Grammy for Album of the Year.  And the Bee Gees scored four Number One songs, owning the top of the pop charts for months, and kickstarting a long string of Number One hits for the group.

So what does all this have to do with marketing?

When management looks at marketing, they’re searching for something safe and familiar.  There’s comfort in knowing that your website, your ads, your sales literature or your TV spots look like others in the industry.

But what made the Bee Gees’ songs so popular, and Einstein’s ideas so game changing, was the exact opposite. They weren’t like anything else.  And so they rocked their respective worlds.

If marketing is going to succeed in building your brand and making you stand out, the marketing itself has to stand out.  It can’t look or sound or feel like everybody else.  To quote another cultural icon, it has “to boldly go where no one has gone before.”

And management has to be able to move past the nervousness that truly creative work always instills in all of us, and give it a chance.  Most great moments in life begin with a case of nerves.  Reward requires risk, as in all things.

If you’re going to invest in marketing, invest in ideas that will break out and move the needle.

(And if you need a hand developing those ideas, we’re here to help!)