Would you rather be correct or right?
In a Pitch Report from last year, we highlighted a then-popular and quite hilarious 2 min YouTube clip called, “It’s Not About The Nail ”. Check it out now if you’re not familiar with it.
If you’ve just watched it for the first time, wipe away those tears of:
- Resentment and anger
- What tears, I don’t get it?
- What tears, as with most of your humour I am profoundly non-plussed (I work for the government)?
Obviously, within the context of the clip there is a disconnect between the right and the correct way to proceed. For me, if I see someone suffering discomfort from a nail in the head, my vote is for the application of immediate emergency medical treatment. Others may feel that considering the patient’s emotional needs (rational or not) must come first. Spoiler alert, I’m right (Ed. Again! Remarkable), lose the nail.
In sport, as in marketing, as in marriages and those that pass for marriages, there is always a right, a wrong and a correct answer (which usually turns out to be wrong). See, if every correct answer turned out be the right one, ad campaigns would be finalised in minutes, marriages would last forever and horrifyingly there would be no surprises outside the theatre of war and cricket.
Constructing the element of surprise is one of the more engaging and endearing cognitive machinations in history.
So many concepts that should fall flat or flat out not work, are lauded for generations as cutting edge ideas and incisive enquiries into the human condition/psyche.
Surprise works as a marketing tool because the target audience is not expecting it. They’re caught off guard.
It’s magic, it’s misdirection, it’s spending your last $4m on a surprise engagement because he/she/it’s that special. It’s spelling out the words “I’m sorry” with the broken pieces of your mother’s favourite vase instead of trying to fix it - it’s the correct application of an incorrect answer. It’s Leslie Nielsen from “Flying High” to the “Naked Gun” series and it's Austin Powers', amusing TVCs and the list goes on ...and on.
Time for an equation:
The correct technique/execution/ operating procedure + an inappropriate or incongruous/mismatched product = surprise (and/or laughter) + unprompted audience recall or a strange but long-lasting marriage. Whichever you prefer.
Works the other way too:
An appropriate/commonplace product + an inappropriate or incongruous/mismatched technique/execution/operating procedure = memorable results + and that long marriage thing again.
Quick aside: years ago I asked a man at a huge family gathering who was already in his nineties, what the secret to his 60 year marriage to his equally ancient but strangely charming wife was. He leant in close enough for me to realise his skin was basically dust holding hands and rasped, “don’t tell anyone but I thought she would’ve died a good 20 years ago.”
Over a tidal wave of gasps and PG swear words I whispered back, “how about we unclip this lapel mic and turn it off.”
Surprise can mean, doing the wrong thing the right way or the right thing the wrong the way. Either way, very memorable.
Get that right and you’ll never go wrong… and that’s both the correct and the right answer. (Ed. Seriously Train… get some rest!)