On Purple Cows

Andreas Duess, a Toronto-based creative director knocks Seth Godin’s Purple Cow thesis. In a nutshell, Godin says stop worrying about how to market inferior products and services and put everything into making remarkable products or services, or Purple Cows, to use the author’s vernacular.

Does being remarkable guarantee success? We all know that it doesn’t. Take the portable mp3 player as an example. Apple’s iPod is the market leader, with a 75% share of the market. But was Apple the first company to make portable mp3 players? Not at all. Is the iPod the most feature rich player with the best battery life? Not by a long shot. The companies that pioneered the technology are being left behind or are abandoning the market altogether, despite having created a purple cow if ever there was one. Their mistake? Not communicating that fact effectively. Not becoming part of popular culture.
So what’s responsible for the success if the iPod if it’s neither price, nor features? In a word: Marketing. Advertising. Advertising and marketing that is creating an emotional attachement. People choose the products they buy – apart from price – for three reasons, how they see themselves, how they want to see themselves or how they want to be seen.
Successful advertising, in all it’s incarnations, including blogs, including WOM, is all about creating the emotional attachment. It’s about becoming a part of who the customer is, or wants to be, or wants to be seen as. It’s really that simple.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.