Business Rule #35: |
Understand Your Objective
October 21, 2005
by Caroline Pfouts
This week, Brian Mandelbaum stepped up as the Project Manager for the Excel team. The task was designing and making a parade float to celebrate the spirit of the new Sony Pictures family film, “Zathura.”
The director of the film, Jon Favreau, made fun of Brian the first time he said the name of the movie. Sure, Brian botched it, but what did Favreau expect with such a new, zany word? After dishing out a little humiliation, Favreau admitted that he, himself, had mispronounced the name at first, and the producers almost didn’t hire him because of it.
When explaining the task to the women of Capital Edge, Jon Favreau made it perfectly clear that getting across the movie’s title was an important part of the task. That’s the whole reason for making the float. Since he didn’t go out of his way to embarrass any of them over mispronouncing “Zathura” though, it may have looked like he was being nicer to the women than the men. In retrospect though, he did the women no service because it didn’t bring home the message as well as being laughed at in front of your team. No matter. The instructions were still clear: make the name familiar to moviegoers.
When a criterion is set out so clearly, that’s what’s ultimately key. As General Patton once said, “A mediocre solution, executed quickly and with violence, is better than a great solution, executed slowly.”
What do the judges want? Name recognition. And if the Capital Edge group had done that one thing more effectively, they might have won.
But no, it wasn’t even a contest. Not only did Excel have the name visible on all four sides of their float,
but they also incorporated a booming soundtrack.
The float actually thundered, “Zathura,” teaching the parade goers how to say the unfamiliar name.
Smart move, guys.
In comparison, Capital Edge’s presentation of the product name in smaller letters on merely two
sides of the float came in a distant second. And with a silent float, Capital Edge hadn’t addressed the problem of teaching movie fans how to identify it by the correct name.
I know of an actor in Hollywood who had a long-running job doing a national commercial. It was the kind of rainmaking gig that aspiring actors only dream of: work for one afternoon and get paid every thirteen weeks after that, until they hire you to do the new version. One day, without any introduction, the copywriter who authored the commercial spot showed up at the taping. The actor said one nasty comment about the quality of the writing and the product—and was instantly fired. The moral of the story: always respect your product.