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The Big Idea: Grill Your Frog

Posted by: David Kiley on July 22, 2009


By Scott Goodson
Scott Goodson is the founder of global micro ad agency StrawberryFrog.

That’s right, give your Frog the third degree. Choke it. Stretch it. Lift it up and down and roll it all around. The Frog I am talking about is “opportunity.”

Stefan Persson, the son of the founder of H&M is sitting in his office in Stockholm Sweden, staring at rows and rows of pictures of models in their underwear. Staffers hustled and bustled around Persson, some carrying brochures, and some carrying in-store promotional material. But Persson just stands and looks at these small pictures of women in their underwear. To the casual onlooker, these images of women in their underwear would have been a familiar scene. Nothing special. These images were commonplace, and typically filled magazines and newspapers for Wonderbra, Triumph or Lindex and many many other bra brands. This was like every ordinary day. These images had been the same for years and were laid bare in front of him, rather ordinary and unoriginal.

But that day something clicked in his brain. Because while Stefan Persson saw that day what every other person saw, a light went off in his marketing brain and he saw something everyone else missed. Opportunity. As a result, Stefan grabbed his Frog and decided to put up massive outdoor boards in the darkest and greyest Swedish months. Same pictures that had been around for years, but now huge and unmissable by city dwellers. From there Stefan’s Christmas campaign featuring super models went on to provoke debate and built his brand around Europe and then beyond.

What’s your Frog? What’s your big leap?

Be fearless and put your Frog through the wringer. Don’t panic at the thought of a changing marketplace and all the noise of marketing revolution. Look at what’s right in front of you and roast your proverbial Frog. Because your Frog may well be your big opportunity in the market. And Frogs don’t just sit around and wait. They leap without breaking a sweat. So, you need to grab your Frog and take the big leap with all your heart.

Linie Aquavit is flavored Vodka that is produced in Norway and a favorite of my wife’s Stockholm-living father. The brand Linie was created Jørgen Lysholm the son of a Norwegian textile manufacturer after having developed a series of other moderately successful spirits brands. Linie was like many other flavored types of vodka at the time (and there quite a few in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland since state employees had their wages paid in Vodka). But Lysholm saw his Frog one day and decided to make his big leap. In developing his brand he decided that the mixture of special spices and seasonings needed about the right amount of time to swish together as it would take a ship to sail from Norway across the equator. Linie Aquavit grew to be one of the biggest vodkas in the region, cherish by the tastemakers and the experts. Each bottle is marketed by the date and time the ship crossed the equatorial line.

Renzo Rosso of Diesel was sitting in his office in Molvena Italy in the mid 80s working on several jeans brands. Back then Levis was the established player – the IBM of Jeans and it’s grip on the market in Europe and the US was like titanium. In the late 80s’ Rosso was examining a pair of his extremely well made jeans when he saw something others hadn’t. He realized that the greatest weakness about the jeans industry was its insincerity. It had grown up on the back of rock stars, but the advertising had become a monster that in his mind needed to be heeled.

What Rosso did next was to grab onto his Frog and take one of the biggest leaps in entrepreneurialism. Rosso decided to hire Creative Director Wilbert Das right our of college. Next he hired a tiny fledgling ad agency called Paradiset run by a guy named Joakim Jonsson, in one of Europe’s smallest ad markets, Sweden. This agency worked alongside Diesel’s Nordic sales and marketing manager J. Lindberg (who went on to found his own brand). What came next was history and a company that not only grew phenomenally but almost put Levis out of business. Rosso’s decision to grab a hold of his Frog created one of the best companies in the fashion world, and certainly one of the biggest leaps in marketing, and probably some of the best and most awarded advertising in Cannes.

Honest Ed was a man living in Toronto. His real name was Ed Mirvish. He owned a discount store with simple displays of low-priced merchandise, ranging from vacuum cleaners and winter coats to kitchenware, toys and grocery items. One day he decided he wanted to open a restaurant. Once the place was built and the doors were opened, he realized that he needed a different tack to compete with what Toronto had to offer. He grabbed hold of his Frog and and made the big leap. He decided that he would not run discount restaurants but ones with class and style. And then he set about using a combination of marketing and PR to build up his business. First he announced that only people wearing ties and jackets could enter his premises. Then, he hired a group of men to picket his restaurants wearing Turtle Neck sweaters, protesting this insult to their fashion sensibilities and of course demanding equal prime rib under the law. After enough noise and media coverage in the Canadian press, Honest Ed acquiesced and proclaimed that everyone had the right to his prime rib, even those not wearing a tie.

So as you take pause during these warm summer months, think about your Frog. Look at your brand, your market, and your business. What new big leap can you make to set yourself up for the kind of Frog Happiness that lays ahead of you? In what ways can you transform your brand, your brand experience, your marketing to ignite the kind of business growth that can happen? How can you take one of your existing products or brands and create an entirely new and different business around it?

Reader Comments

frank Loweser

August 3, 2009 8:44 AM

I always thought the name of your agency was a bit hokey. But I like the way you think, and I'm digging the picture on the blog.

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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