Learn the rules so you can break them well

by Shannon Paul on October 3, 2008

Politics and marketing don’t mix, or do they?

Like a lot of people, I took piano lessons throughout most of my childhood and adolescence. One great music lesson that also became a great life lesson was the notion of breaking rules well.

In music theory, arbitrary and reckless violation of the rules just makes noise, but skillful violation of the rules brings forth the type of genius that exemplifies the work of artists like Chopin or John Coltrane. I like to think the same is true in marketing.

My friend Charlie Wollborg posted this great little video he calls Sacred Cows and Slurpee Machines, where he talks about how 7-Eleven breaks this well-established rule of marketing etiquette with good results.

Introducing politics into the marketing mix violates just about everything, including common sense, right?

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/1868381]

People like to say that common sense isn’t common, but maybe sometimes it doesn’t even make sense. What do you think, maybe it’s not quite genius, but does 7-Eleven break the rules with good results?

Bookmark and Share

If you enjoyed this post, make sure to subscribe for regular updates!

InstapaperLinkedInSphinnPosterousMixxStumbleUponGoogle ReaderNewsVinePrintFriendlyTumblrSave and Share
Cancel reply

Leave a Comment

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

October 3, 2008 flashcat7 1

Awesome! I’ll pass this along. I love when big companies get involved. That’s the best way to approach the subject of politics. You’re not favoring either candidate, but you’re encouraging involvement in the election for average americans.

Hopefully people won’t think this counts as their vote!


October 3, 2008 Tim Rueb 2

I loved it also. Great video. Great idea for 7-eleven. Just think how much more coffee they are going to sell for all the people looking for make a difference by drinking coffee 8)

Could you images what their cup selections would be like at the beginnings of the primaries. Weren’t there 12 on each major party? 24 cups to choose from! Wow.


October 3, 2008 Rosy 3

What a creative way to sell loads of coffee and have people talking!


October 3, 2008 Charlie Wollborg 4

Great idea, Tim. I’d love to see 24 primary cups.

What about taking the idea one step further. 7-11 introduces “cause cups”. Each cup features a non-profit with a short intro to the cause, their web address and a call for support. Whichever cause sells the most cups of coffee during the month gets a big donation from 7-11.

Two new causes get featured every month. That’s 24 organizations filled with passionate supporters pushing their members to 7-11 for a cup of coffee.

What can your organization do to break the rules?


October 4, 2008 Eric Brown 5

Great Post, and I love Charlie’s video and his blog. He is quite the creative sort and likely never followed any of the rules, he makes them up as he goes, which is admirable.

In order to create something Remarkable one will be coloring completely outside of the lines. Sometimes you need to make your own rules to build something truly remarkable, but to do so requires courage, which shouldn’t be underestimated. Even the simplest items require you to step out from the norm, be looked at as different, take a leap of faith, because your idea may fail, may cost money, yours or someone else’s, may not be popular, may offend someone, may offend a lot of folks, but maybe, if you can drive back the fear long enough to be creative, to be remarkable, your idea may Break from the Pack of commodity. But, listen to the pundits too long and even the best of ideas become diluted mush.


October 4, 2008 Elaine Garrett 6

Okay, maybe politics.

But I’ve been involved in a free online course for most of this summer with a major internet marketer who made the bad choice of talking up a religious marketing conference on his blog. The fallout was instantaneous!

Immediately his comment section filled up with anti-religious and pro-religious posts! Like 7-Eleven he did not advocate for either side. He simply mentioned he was taking a break from his lessons while attending this conference and invited his students to attend because of the cheap price.


October 5, 2008 Tim Rueb 7

@Charlie – I’m always on the look-out for a promotional event for local companies to take advantage of. I think for a smaller regional player or very small retailer, the tactic of using cups or anything that brings people back to ‘vote’ by purchase would be awesome PR.

Good Hunting.


October 6, 2008 Shauna Nicholson 8

“Shockingly” enough, Obama is pulling ahead in the 7-11 race for the seat!


Previous post:

Next post: