The best creatives know the value of being different, of standing out.

This is because we are all fighting for attention in the public’s mind.

If we’re all the same, whoever is biggest wins (market growth).

But if you’re smaller, you have to be different to get noticed (market share).

This is known as Gestalt, it’s the software the mind runs on (XXXOXXX).

But we never bother explaining this to clients.

So it’s usually just seen as different-for-different’s-sake.

But look at the following, from VCCP when they won the APG Strategy Award for

"The only thing that distinguished us from the competition was the word ‘market’ in our name. We felt it was by drawing attention to this that we might be able to create space between ourselves and the competition."

So it really is as simple as being different (XXXOXXX).

Well yes, but understanding the history of their campaign explains why.

CompareTheMarket were fourth in the category, behind: GoCompare,, and MoneySupermarket.

Their name sounded like the market leader COMPAREtheMarket – GoCOMPARE.

And people constantly misattributed one company’s advertising to the other.

So they’d be buried unless they found a way to differentiate (XXXOXXX).

Just repeating the generic category benefit "Save up to £300" wouldn’t do anything.

But in the brief there was a logical reason to differentiate.

Because the names and advertising were all so similar, people would just go on Google and hit search.

There is an auction on Google for search terms, the most popular word costs more.

Once you’ve successfully bid for a search term, you then pay per click.

So it can get expensive.

Searching for a word like "market" would cost £5 per click, it was popular so lots of people wanted it.

The brief was to find a more unusual version of this word, something cheaper.

Something not so many people wanted.

Which was the financial justification for a crazy idea like "meerkat".

Hardly anyone bid for that as a search term, so it only cost 5p per click.

Which meant it was a hundred times cheaper than the word "market".

Now wasn’t just different-for-different’s-sake, now even the financial director could see the sense in it.

To bring it to life, they created little meerkat characters, they created a meerkat website, a meerkat blog, a story, photos, competitions.

They put all their effort into selling what made them different from the category (XXXOXXX).

Did it work?

They are now the market leader, they are far and away the biggest spender with the biggest market share.

Because they didn’t copy what everyone else in the market was doing, they purposely did the opposite.

They separated themselves off from the market and in so doing, repositioned the rest of the market.

They even gave away little toy characters, which acted like advertising even when they weren’t running any ads.

We can make this business as complicated as we like.

But it really does come down to the way the human mind works: Gestalt.


Dave Trott is the author of Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three.


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