Book Excerpt: Bang! By Linda Kaplan Thaler

"The only problem is that the whole thing is a myth. . . . It doesn't do so well in the real world, where decisions are more challenging, situations are more confusing and complex, information is scarce or inconclusive, time is short and stakes are high. And in that environment, the classical, analytical model of decision making falls flat." Randi Dorman, group director at Interbrand, a New York City-based brand-identity consulting firm, agrees. Working with brands such as Crest, which relies on packaging to grab the consumer's attention in the supermarket aisle, she encourages her clients to think about "shelf interest" rather than "shelf impact." While package designers traditionally rely on loud graphics and the age-old "new and improved!" approach, Dorman insists that's not enough. "If you go to the supermarket, there are aisles and aisles of products, and there is so much to look at. It's created kind of a loud wallpaper that has led to a grab-and-go mentality. They know the products they like so they grab and go as quickly as possible. "But it's not enough to be loud and impactful at the shelf," Dorman continues. "You have to do something more intriguing. You have to speak to something that's going on in the consumer's life, that speaks to what the consumer is looking for and how she might be changing. And you have to make it easy for her to shop." Dorman cites Campbell's soup as an example of a manufacturer that hasn't focused enough on consumer needs, and as a result, they've missed the mark both emotionally and with regards to shopability. "If you go to the soup aisle, you see condensed soup, chunky soup, and ready-to-serve soup, and it's all so confusing. You can tell that they've been doing everything based on what different things they can make versus making it easy for the consumer to find what they want." I, unfortunately, have an example of how this kind of rational thinking can lead you astray. Bad Medicine

In early 2000, we were vying with another agency to win the Bristol-Myers Squibb corporate account. Bristol-Myers Squibb is one of the leading manufacturers of cancer drugs, among other things, and we heard plenty from CEO Peter Dolan about how Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong had beaten a deadly cancer by taking drugs created in the company's labs.

One day while we were brainstorming ideas for the campaign, Laurie Garnier, our global creative director for Clairol, came into my office and said, "Forgive me. I know I'm not directly working on this, but I gotta tell you that this Lance Armstrong guy is something. He's alive because of those drugs. You really should do a spot with him." She told me the story of Armstrong and how his wife recently gave birth to his son.

I got my legendary chills, my unconscious reaction to a Big Bang idea. But then I started to think. I said, "Yeah, it is an incredible story. But I don't know, it's so obvious. Everyone's going to use him."

She went away, undaunted, and came back with a script. She said to me, "Linda, this guy had this unbelievably deadly cancer. He shouldn't even be alive. And now he's got this baby . . ."

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