young-kid-mowhawkThe freaks shall inherit the earth, (and the biz)

“What’s the most memorable pitch you’ve ever heard?” That’s the question I asked the audience at a recent event I was speaking at. They were a bit shy and braved a torrential downpour to attend, so I let them off the hook somewhat. “Okay, what’s ANY memorable pitch you’ve ever heard?” Aflac, (a talking duck) Geico (a talking Gecko) and “The Ultimate Driving Machine” (an almost talking car) were all memorable pitches offered up by the group.

These pitches are memorable because the companies who air them, have spent countless millions to be sure that we remember them by playing them over and over again for years on your TV screen. (Do you remember how the internet was going to kill TV? Well, it’s not dead yet, that’s for sure.)

The audience that night was “mature,” (meaning old enough to remember this) so I asked, “What about Crazy Eddie?” Do you remember his pitch? “His prices are INSANE!!” the group says in unison. Crazy Eddie died recently and his pitch was top of mind. Memorable, yet a little bit freaky. He stood out. Grabbed hold of your attention from behind the TV screen.

I went to a networking event once where an accountant introduced himself by saying: “I will get you as close to an audit as possible, without getting an actual audit.” That was memorable, but I don’t want to get anywhere near an audit, so that one was a bit too freaky/scary for me. I also recall a woman who billed herself as “the corporate street walker.” She gathered information for the Census Bureau, so her pitch was accurate and memorable, but perhaps a bit over the top.

I was the weird goth girl in high school and college and I still feel like an outcast in business a lot of the time. I don’t follow the rules and I don’t fit neatly into many boxes. That’s probably why I’m drawn to the underdogs in business and in entertainment. Mr. Robot is one of my favorite TV shows in recent memory and I was thrilled when Rami Malek won the Emmy for lead actor in a drama. He beat out some extremely talented actors, including Kevin Spacey, to achieve this victory. Malek’s acceptance speech was STELLAR. Every bit as weird and wonderful as I’d hoped it would be.

He says: “I play a young man who is, (I think, like so many of us) profoundly alienated. And the unfortunate thing is that I’m not sure how many of us would want to hang out with a guy like Elliot. But I want to honor the Elliots of the world, because there’s a little bit of Elliot in all of us.” See the video of his speech here:

And yes, I do consider Malek’s acceptance speech a pitch of sorts. What is he selling? The fact that Elliot is a broken, frayed character who is worth watching? His abilities as a brilliant young actor? The beauty and vulnerability of the underdog? That it’s okay to be the weirdo who wears a hoodie, talks to himself and happens to be a computer-hacking genius?

Elon Musk, (Tesla Motors, Space X) was bullied relentlessly in school for being different. In a recent Vogue interview he said:

“South Africa was quite a violent place. There was a level of violence growing up that wouldn’t be tolerated in any American school. It was like Lord of the Flies. There were a couple of gangs that were pretty evil, and they picked their victims and I was one of them. I think part of what set them off was that I ended up sticking up for this one kid who they were relentless on. And that made me a target.”

You can read the full article here:

Musk was able to channel his fear and alienation into motivation to build something big—ideas and companies that can change the world.

Do you have a freaky product or service that is memorable AND good? Share it. It’s just what the world needs right now.

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