Borderline Terrific? Or Totally Terrific?

Hound Dog. Just one of the songs that put songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller into the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.
Hound Dog. Just one of the songs that put songwriters Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame.

What’s the difference between winning and second place?

It can be very little. A hair’s breadth. Or as they say in Australia, even if you win by a ‘skerrick’ you’re still the winner.

The slot between fantastic and something slightly less impressive can be narrow, but impossible to bridge without big ideas.

That’s why the name, Elvis, is on the tip of your tongue but the name, Big Mama Thornton, probably isn’t. 

The legendary 1950s song writing team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller wrote Hound Dog for Big Mama Thornton. Hear it and I think you’ll agree, it rocks.

Certainly Elvis warmed to it. Maybe that’s why as a young man he pestered Leiber and Stoller for permission to record a version of his own.

To ingratiate himself he used all the southern charm he could muster, addressing them as Mister Leiber and Mister Stoller. Elvis was a gent.

Of course, we all have a weakness for superlatives, but somehow the Elvis version is more primal, gutsy and more ‘who-dat-man’ as it pushes your mood buttons.

Most of us won’t argue if you rate it as totally terrific.

The point is you can always do better. Improvement awaits you.

Even when you think you couldn’t do more.

That brings to mind an old joke. A teacher asks her third grade class, ‘what is the smallest room?’ The answer is a mushroom.

Then she asks, ‘what is the largest room?’ The answer is telling. Room for improvement.

In marketing terms this is where Honda’s car commercials are such a stand out.

There are many able car ads that go beyond the usual grandstanding opportunism of contrived emotion and faux enthusiasm. They have ideas that work.

But …

But then there are the commercials for Honda.

You probably know the ‘Cog’ spot as well as the ‘Hands’ commercial which encompasses a range of Honda products.

As my youngest would say, they both have zero suck factor.

Lesser known is the ‘Sound of Honda’ racing spot. It recreates the engine sounds of Ayrton Senna’s 1989 Suzuka pole lap as a way to announce Honda’s 2015 return to Formula One.

Few would wish commercials were any longer than they are but these spots are maybe an exception.

And therein lies that small difference between borderline terrific and totally terrific.

You’ll remember the cynical name for the second place finisher is ‘the first loser’.

After all, when you’re second you’re the best of the ordinary.

In our office we call that top-notch mediocrity.

So why settle for ordinary when it could be a drag on your sales and revenue stream.

Which is why you need the best creative people you can find working for you.

To find them, search for an agency that can say ‘no’ to good ideas.

Because somewhere out there, there are ideas that are just a bit better, stronger and more effective. Right, Elvis?

Tell us your story. Have you found better creative people?



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *