Friday, May 10, 2013

Advertising Ideas for microISVs

Book review of Then We Set His Hair on Fire - Insights and Accidents from a Hall-of-Fame Career in Advertising by Phil Dusenberry (published 2005 by the Penguin Group).

Phil Dusenberry was the Chairman of BBDO North America, one of the biggest advertising companies in the United States. Dusenberry says that his book is more about insights and ideas and not so much about the advertising industry. I believe that many microISVs will love reading Dusenberry's stories about how the mega-companies make their decisions about buying advertising.

The book title is a reference to BBDO's creation of the Pepsi ad in which Michael Jackson had an unfortunate accident. Some of the most fascinating stories in the book talk about the negotiations between Michael Jackson and Pepsi. These tales are intriguing, not because Michael Jackson was a music star, but because they can teach us a lot about negotiating.

Pepsi and Michael Jackson had little difficulty agreeing on the $5,000,000(US) fee that compensated Michael for appearing in the Pepsi TV ad. The first major problem that the two parties encountered - which didn't surface until after the contract was signed - was that Michael Jackson did not want his face to appear in the advertisement.

Michael had strong feelings about the topic, and he surprised Pepsi. The Pepsi people never imagined that Jackson would accept a large payment and not expect people to see him in the Pepsi commercial. Pepsi compromised. They included enough flashes of Jackson's face so that the audience would recognize him, but not enough to upset Michael about seeing himself pictured in the video.

There's a lesson here for software developers: When you're negotiating with eCommerce providers, download sites, or any software industry service providers, you have to ask every question that you can imagine. Don't assume anything about the terms that are important to your negotiating partners.

The other big surprise for Pepsi was the selection of the music for the commercial. Nobody expected Michael to like the music that Pepsi created. But a lot of Pepsi people were amazed when Jackson said, "Why don't you use 'Billie Jean'?" The people at Pepsi had assumed that using Jackson's two-time Grammy Award-winning song would be so expensive that it wasn't worth negotiating. Michael, on the other hand, thought that using "Billie Jean" in the video ad was no big deal.

Again, never assume that you know what is important to the people with whom you're negotiating.

This is a fun book, with lots of ideas that can help software publishers and microISVs.

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