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  • I'm going to give you four specific examples -- and I'm going to cover at the end --

  • about how a company called Silk tripled their sales by doing one thing.

  • How an artist named Jeff Koons went from being a nobody

  • to making a whole bunch of money and having a lot of impact,

  • to how Frank Gehry redefined what it meant to be an architect.

  • And one of my biggest failures as a marketer in the last few years,

  • a record label I started that had a CD called "Sauce."

  • Before I can do that I've got to tell you about sliced bread, and a guy named Otto Rohwedder.

  • Now, before sliced bread was invented in the 1910s

  • I wonder what they said?

  • Like the greatest invention since ... the telegraph or something.

  • But this guy named Otto Rohwedder invented sliced bread,

  • and he focused, like most inventors did, on the patent part and the making part.

  • And the thing about the invention of sliced bread is this --

  • that for the first 15 years after sliced bread was available

  • no one bought it, no one knew about it. It was a complete and total failure.

  • And the reason is that until Wonder came along

  • and figured out how to spread the idea of sliced bread, no one wanted it.

  • That the success of sliced bread,

  • like the success of almost everything we've been talking about at this conference,

  • is not always about what the patent is like, or what the factory is like,

  • it's about can you get your idea to spread, or not.

  • And I think that the way that you're going to get what you want,

  • or cause the change that you want to change, to happen,

  • is that you've got to figure out a way to get your ideas to spread.

  • And it doesn't matter to me whether you're running a coffee shop

  • or you're an intellectual, or you're in business, or you're flying hot air balloons.

  • I think that all this stuff applies to everybody regardless of what we do.

  • That what we are living in is a century of idea diffusion.

  • That people who can spread ideas, regardless of what those ideas are, win.

  • And when I talk about it I usually pick business

  • because they make the best pictures that you can put in your presentation,

  • and because it's the easiest sort of way to keep score.

  • But I want you to forgive me when I use these examples

  • because I'm talking about anything that you decide to spend your time to do.

  • At the heart of spreading ideas is TV and stuff like TV.

  • TV and mass media made it really easy to spread ideas in a certain way.

  • I call it the TV industrial complex.

  • The way the TV industrial complex works, is you buy some ads --

  • interrupt some people -- that gets you distribution.

  • You use the distribution you get to sell more products.

  • You take the profit from that to buy more ads.

  • And it goes around and around and around,

  • the same way that military and industrial complex worked a long time ago.

  • And that model of, and we heard it yesterday,

  • if we could only get onto the homepage of Google,

  • if we could only figure out how to get promoted there,

  • if we could only figure out how to grab that person by the throat,

  • and tell them about what we want to do.

  • If we do that then everyone would pay attention, and we would win.

  • Well, this TV industrial complex informed my entire childhood and probably yours.

  • I mean, all of these products succeeded because someone figured out

  • how to touch people in a way they weren't expecting,

  • in a way they didn't necessarily want with an ad,

  • over and over and over again until they bought it.

  • And the thing that's happened is, they canceled the TV industrial complex.

  • That just over the last few years,

  • what anybody who markets anything has discovered

  • is that it's not working the way that it used to.

  • This picture is really fuzzy, I apologize, I had a bad cold when I took it.

  • But the product in the blue box in the center is my poster child.

  • Right. I go to the deli, I'm sick, I need to buy some medicine.

  • The brand manager for that blue product spent 100 million dollars

  • trying to interrupt me in one year.

  • 100 million dollars interrupting me with TV commercials and magazine ads and spam

  • and coupons and shelving allowances and spiff --

  • all so I could ignore every single message.

  • And I ignored every message because I don't have a pain reliever problem.

  • I buy the stuff in the yellow box because I always have.

  • And I'm not going to invest a minute of my time to solve her problem,

  • because I don't care.

  • Here's a magazine called Hydrate. It's 180 pages about water.

  • (Laughter)

  • Right. Articles about water, ads about water.

  • Imagine what the world was like 40 years ago

  • when it was just the Saturday Evening Post and Time and Newsweek.

  • Now there are magazines about water.

  • New products from Coke Japan -- water salad.

  • (Laughter)

  • OK. Coke Japan comes out with a new product every three weeks.

  • Because they have no idea what's going to work and what's not.

  • I couldn't have written this better myself. It came out four days ago --

  • I circled the important parts so you can see them here.

  • They've came out ... Arby's is going to spend 85 million dollars promoting an oven mitt

  • with the voice of Tom Arnold,

  • hoping that that will get people to go to Arby's and buy a roast beef sandwich.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, I had tried to imagine what could possibly be in an animated TV commercial

  • featuring Tom Arnold, that would get you to get in your car,

  • drive across town and buy a roast beef sandwich.

  • (Laughter)

  • Now, this is Copernicus, and he was right,

  • when he was talking to anyone who needs to hear your idea.

  • The world revolves around me. Me, me, me, me, me. My favorite person -- me.

  • I don't want to get email from anybody, I want to get "memail."

  • (Laughter)

  • So consumers, and I don't just mean people who buy stuff at the Safeway,

  • I mean people at the Defense Department who might buy something,

  • or people at, you know, the New Yorker who might print your article.

  • Consumers don't care about you at all, they just don't care.

  • Part of the reason is -- they've got way more choices than they used to,

  • and way less time.

  • And in a world where we have too many choices

  • and too little time, the obvious thing to do is just ignore stuff.

  • And my parable here is you're driving down the road

  • and you see a cow, and you keep driving

  • because you've seen cows before.

  • Cows are invisible. Cows are boring.

  • Who's going to stop and pull over and say -- oh, look, a cow. Nobody.

  • (Laughter)

  • But if the cow was purple -- isn't that a great special effect?

  • I could do that again if you want it.

  • If the cow was purple, you'd notice it for a while.

  • I mean, if all cows were purple you'd get bored with those, too.

  • The thing that's going to decide what gets talked about,

  • what gets done, what gets changed,

  • what gets purchased, what gets built,

  • is -- is it remarkable?

  • And remarkable's a really cool word because we think it just means neat,

  • but it also means -- worth making a remark about.

  • And that is the essence of where idea diffusion is going.

  • That two of the hottest cars in the United States is a 55,000 dollar giant car,

  • big enough to hold a mini in its trunk.

  • People are paying full price for both, and the only thing they have in common

  • is that they don't have anything in common.

  • (Laughter)

  • Every week the number one best selling DVD in America changes.

  • It's never "The Godfather," it's never "Citizen Kane,"

  • It's always some third rate movie with some second rate star.

  • But the reason it's number one is because that's the week it came out.

  • Because it's new, because it's fresh.

  • Because people saw it and said -- I didn't know that was there --

  • and they noticed it.

  • Two of the big success stories of the last 20 years in retail --

  • one sells things that are super-expensive in a blue box,

  • and one sells things that are as cheap as they can make them.

  • The only thing they have in common is that they're different.

  • We're now in the fashion business, no matter what we do for a living,

  • we're in the fashion business.

  • And the thing is, people in the fashion business

  • know what it's like to be in the fashion business, because they're used to it.

  • The rest of us have to figure out how to think that way.

  • How to understand that it's not about interrupting people with big full-page ads,

  • or insisting on meetings with people.

  • But it's a totally different sort of process that determines which ideas spread,

  • and which ones don't.

  • This chair -- they sold a billion dollars' worth of Aeron chairs

  • by reinventing what it meant to sell a chair.

  • They turned a chair from something the purchasing department bought,

  • to something that was a status symbol about where you sat at work.

  • This guy, Lionel Poilane, the most famous baker in the world --

  • he died two and a half months ago,

  • and he was a hero of mine and a dear friend.

  • He lived in Paris. Last year he sold 10 million dollars worth of French bread.

  • Every loaf baked in a bakery he owned, by one baker at a time, in a wood-fired oven.

  • And when Lionel started his bakery the French pooh-pooh-ed it.

  • They didn't want to buy his bread. It didn't look like "French bread."

  • It wasn't what they expected.

  • It was neat, it was remarkable, and slowly it spread from one person to another person

  • until finally, it became the official bread of three-star restaurants in Paris.

  • Now he's in London, and he ships by FedEx all around the world.

  • What marketers used to do is make average products for average people.

  • That's what mass marketing is.

  • Smooth out the edges, go for the center,

  • that's the big market.

  • They would ignore the geeks,

  • and God forbid, the laggards.

  • It was all about going for the center.

  • But in a world where the TV industrial complex is broken,

  • I don't think that's a strategy we want to use any more.

  • I think the strategy we want to use is to not market to these people

  • because they're really good at ignoring you.

  • But market to these people because they care.

  • These are the people who are obsessed with something.

  • And when you talk to them they'll listen

  • because they like listening -- it's about them.

  • And if you're lucky, they'll tell their friends

  • on the rest of the curve, and it'll spread.

  • It'll spread to the entire curve.

  • They have something I call otaku -- it's a great Japanese word.

  • It describes the desire of someone who's obsessed to say,

  • drive across Tokyo to try a new ramen noodle place,

  • because that's what they do. They get obsessed with it.

  • To make a product, to market an idea,

  • to come up with any problem you want to solve

  • that doesn't have a constituency with an otaku,

  • is almost impossible.

  • Instead, you have to find a group that really,

  • desperately cares about what it is you have to say.

  • Talk to them and make it easy for them to tell their friends.

  • There's a hot sauce otaku, but there's no mustard otaku.

  • That's why there's lots and lots and lots of kinds of hot sauces,

  • and not so many kinds of mustard.

  • Not because it's hard to make interesting mustard

  • -- you can make interesting mustard --

  • But people don't because no one's obsessed with it,

  • and thus no one tells their friends.

  • Krispy Kreme has figured this whole thing out.

  • Krispy Kreme has a strategy, and what they do is,

  • they enter a city, they talk to the people with otaku,

  • and then they spread through the city

  • to the people who've just crossed the street.

  • This yoyo right here cost 112 dollars, but it sleeps for 12 minutes.

  • Not everybody wants it but they don't care.

  • They want to talk to the people who do, and maybe it'll spread.

  • These guys make the loudest car stereo in the world.

  • (Laughter)

  • It's as loud as a 747 jet, you can't get in

  • the car's got bullet proof glass on the windows

  • because they'll blow out the windshield otherwise.

  • But the fact remains that when someone

  • wants to put a couple of speakers in their car,

  • if they've got the otaku

  • or they've heard from someone who does,

  • they go ahead and they pick this.

  • It's really simple -- you sell to the people who are listening,

  • and maybe, just maybe those people tell their friends.

  • So when Steve Jobs talks to 50,000 people at his keynote, right,

  • who are all tuned in from 130 countries

  • watching his two-hour commercial --

  • that's the only thing keeping his company in business --

  • is that those 50,000 people care desperately enough

  • to watch a two-hour commercial, and then tell their friends.

  • Pearl Jam, 96 albums released in the last two years.

  • Every one made a profit. How?

  • They only sell them on their website.

  • Those people who buy them on the website have the otaku,

  • and then they tell their friends, and it spreads and it spreads.

  • This hospital crib cost 10,000 dollars, 10 times the standard.

  • But hospitals are buying it faster than any other model.

  • Hard Candy nail polish, doesn't appeal to everybody,

  • but to the people who love it, they talk about it like crazy.

  • This paint can right here saved the Dutch Boy paint company,

  • making them a fortune. It costs 35 percent more than regular paint

  • because Dutch Boy made a can that people talk about, because it's remarkable.

  • They didn't just slap a new ad on the product,

  • they changed what it meant to build a paint product.

  • AmIhotornot.com -- every day 250,000 people go to this site,

  • run by two volunteers, and I can tell you they are hard graders, and

  • (Laughter)

  • they didn't get this way by advertising a lot.