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Anna Nicole Smith & Commoditization

by Doug Davidoff | Feb 9, 2007 11:47:54 AM

Walking through the airport in Indianapolis, I saw the news flashing across the televisions in the terminal – “Lawyer confirms Anna Nicole Smith’s Death.”  Then I sat down to check my e-mail and peruse my favorite new sites.  Splashed across the front of those sites was the headline:  “Anna Nicole Smith 1967-2007.”

You can say a lot of things about Anna Nicole Smith, but one thing you cannot argue about is that she achieved a level of fame that few people do.  But, so what?  What impact has Anna Nicole Smith had on the world?  She, like Paris Hilton and others, are famous for, well, being famous.

This got me thinking about all of the companies out there that appear to do anything to get attention.  They do shocking things.  They put messages on billboards backwards, just to stand out.  Traditional public relations teaches us “it doesn’t matter what you say, just spell the name correctly.”  But what’s the point?  Who cares if people know your company, if they don’t know what you company stands for or what it means?

Today, I was consulting with a very successful company.  One of their goals was to figure out how to communicate that their message is ‘different.’  Here’s what I told them (and I’d tell you if I had the chance):  if you need to tell me you’re different, you’re probably not different.  At least you’re not different in any way that matters.

Here’s what I’ve learned:  if you want people to think you’re different, just be different.  Stop proving it, stop talking about it and focus maniacally on doing it.  Then, when you (or your company or your offering) become famous, people won’t ask, “So What?!”