In 1991, Douglas Edwards became Google’s first brand manager. The company was barely a year old and Edwards was employee number 59. For his interview, Google co-founder Sergey Brin turned up wearing a T-shirt, gym shorts and in-line skates. He asked Edwards to answer his famous challenge. After five minutes to think, I want you to explain something complicated to me that I do not already know. If the candidate wasn’t the right fit, at least it could be an hour of insight gained, airing, absorbing and debating new opinions. Edwards passed the challenge. He was invited for sushi with the team after the interview.
A few weeks after joining, Brin suggested:
“Why don’t we take the marketing budget and use it to inoculate Chechen refugees against cholera. It will help our brand awareness, and we’ll get more new people to use Google.”
At the time Edwards thought this to be a bold and revolutionary approach (a little crazy perhaps?) to growing market share. But as he explains in this excerpt from his book I’m feeling lucky – the confessions of Google employee number 59, a little while later he agreed that saving lives was probably a better use of budget than running ads, which just annoyed people to no effect.
The idea of ads annoying people to no effect is one Seth Godin speaks widely to. The end of the TV-Industrial Complex has not resulted in the end of Television Thinking. Television thinking is trying to reach everyone by any means any time with your message. It was based on the principle of interruption, interrupt your audience and grab their attention, bombard them with a message.
The alternative to this thinking is permission marketing, defined as the privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to people who actually want them. And to get this right we must create and sell things that are remarkable, not only because the other options are boring but because they will be unsuccessful, no matter what anyone tells you.
Seth Godin issues an energetic plea for originality, passion, guts and daring.
‘Today, the one sure way to fail is to be boring (or annoying)…make a difference at your company by helping create products and services that are worth marketing in the first place…’
Edwards says he quit the advertising agencies he worked for before Google because he didn’t like the idea that he might have to sell something he didn’t believe in. At Google there was a headlong rush to reshape the world in a generation, accompanied by impatience with those not quick enough to grasp the obvious truth of Google’s vision.
What’s your remarkable? Are you selling it?