Six More Crazy Stories

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Many people requested more examples of companies driving their competition crazy. I found six more for you.

1. When Security Pacific Bank merged with Bank of America many Security Pacific branches were closed. First Interstate Bank rented trucks and parked them in the lots of the branches that were closing. Then First Interstate employees in those trucks then helped people open new accounts as there were leaving the banks.

2. In 1986 British Airways ran a promotion to give away 5,200 seats for travel on June 10th. Virgin Atlantic Airways ran ads that said, “ It has always been Virgin’s policy to encourage you to fly to London for as little as possible. So on June 10 we encourage you to fly British Airways.” The British Airways promotion generated a lot of news coverage, but most of the news coverage also included a mention Virgin’s funny ad. It cost British Airways a lot more than Virgin to get this coverage.

3. A research company surveyed 750 white-collar worker around the United States. The research showed that 81 percent of the people believed that casual dress improved morale; 47 percent believed that it increased productivity; 46 percent said they considered casual dress as a attraction to work for a company that permitted it, and only 4 percent thought a casual-dress standard would have a negative impact. When Levi Strauss found out about the study, it let thousands of publications know about it. The company also even put in a toll-free hotline to help companies implement a casual dress standard. Guess who was sure to benefit from greater knowledge of this study? Levi Strauss, of course, because of its Dockers line of clothing.

4. A Goodyear store in Chattanooga, Tennessee faced a predicament: it wanted to put up two Goodyear signs. However, the local law stipulated a one-sign limit. Undaunted, the store manager spelled out Goodyear in marigolds in a flower bed. The city inspector considered this a violation, but the public supported the store, so the city government backed off.

5. An electrician with only one truck was constantly razzed by his competition because his company was so small. To fake them out, he finally painted three different truck numbers on the right, left, and rear of the truck.

6. International Harvester couldn’t get steel to its factory in Melrose Park, Illinois because of a truckdriver’s union strike. The company couldn’t use non-union labor because of snipers on the freeway. Finally, the company rented school buses and dressed drivers as nuns, loaded the buses with steel, and made the deliveries. No one would shoot at school buses driven by nuns, right?

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By | 2015-03-18T08:11:33+00:00 April 16th, 2006|Categories: Books|Tags: |32 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

32 Comments

  1. Andrew Fife April 16, 2006 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    1 & 2 are great examples of driving competition crazy, but Im not sure aboutthe rest. Who did Levis drive or the Goodyear store drive crazy? Did the electrician actually win more business or just slightly confuse a competitor? And lastly, snipers, nuns, school buses… what?
    Nonetheless, these are all good examples of creative thinking.

  2. Guy Kawasaki April 16, 2006 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    Andrew:
    I don’t know if these are true, but I could imagine:
    Levi Strass–The Gap, Banana Republic
    Goodyear–Goodrich, Firestone
    Electrician–other electricians who thought he was expanding
    International Harvester: truck driver’s union
    Guy

  3. Phil Gerbyshak Challenges You to Make It Great! April 16, 2006 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    Funny Stories on Competition from Guy Kawasaki

    Guy Kawasaki posted Six More Crazy Stories today about companies who have driven their competition crazy by doing something unusual.My favorite was #6. International Harvester couldn’t get steel to its factory in Melrose Park, Illinois because of a tru…

  4. Jack Yan April 16, 2006 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Fantastic, Guy! We need to be reminded that a lot of the best ideas are quite simple.

  5. Torley Linden April 16, 2006 at 9:05 pm - Reply

    That was a great laugh–and insights too. I’m actually wondering how these were come upon… what sort of creative breakthroughs manifested them, in other words?
    Perhaps someone gets driven crazy themselves before driving their competition so? (I’m coming at this from a Darkman-like angle.)

  6. alek April 16, 2006 at 11:16 pm - Reply

    Pretty funny stories Guy – especially liked the Virgin – classic Bronson.
    BTW, why not fiddle that Technocrati stat you have at the bottom right so it shows your current ranking rather than requiring a click-thru.
    You are gunning to be in the top-10 … keep us abreast of how you are doing and raise visibility to support your effort! 😉

  7. Andrew Fife April 16, 2006 at 11:30 pm - Reply

    Guy:
    per my earlier comment… yes, your response makes complete sense if by driving your competition crazy you simply mean being successful. However, driving ones competition crazy would seem to imply marketing tactics that directly engage the competition as with examples 1 & 2 but not necessarily described in 3 or 4.
    Also, with example 3 it isn’t clear how Levi’s benefited more than Gap or Banana Republic. The casual dress awareness campaign would seem to benefit all 3 companies equally by expanding demand for business casual clothing. To me the interesting part of this story would be how Levi’s successfully used their PR and toll free number convince consumers to that the Dockers line was more appropriate for business casual attire than the competition.
    Example 5 isn’t clear how the electrician benefits from his competition believing he has 3 trucks rather than one. This could be cleared up by explaining what “razzing” meant in this context.
    Lastly, example 6 is equally hilarious and ridiculous.
    -Andrew

  8. John Nguyen April 17, 2006 at 12:06 am - Reply

    Loved the airline one. Heard it somewhere, can’t point my finger on it but now its stuck in my brain.

  9. MJ April 17, 2006 at 1:36 am - Reply

    In my day job, we’re the only purveyor of Apple Warranty repairs in the province. One of our biggest competitors also services Apple Macs but they bring their warranty stuff to us because it’s low margin work and they’re not authorised. So….we took the opportunity to have one of their biggest customers at our office when they brought that customers Macs in for warranty service.
    Risk: lose a few warranty service repairs from a competitor *shrug* We’re heaps faster than the mail-in service so we retain the competitive advantage.
    Gain: Four big customers. Word travels fast.

  10. Brian Flanagan April 17, 2006 at 2:56 am - Reply

    Picture the scene: Three shops side by side with the outside ones towering over the one in the middle. The shop on the left has a huge sign saying “Monster Sale” and the sign for the one on the right says “Prices Slashed”. The sign for the tiny shop in the middle says “Entrance”.

  11. Alexander Peschkoff April 17, 2006 at 5:06 am - Reply

    Guy, great stories, thanks a lot!
    BA vs Virgin saga had many nice moments, my favourite one is: when engineers, working on the BA sponsored London Eye, failed to erect it on their first attempt, Virgin promptly flew a ballon over the site which said “BA can’t get it up” 🙂
    Here is the link (see the Fun section): http://www.virgin.com/aboutvirgin/howitallworks/thevirginbrand/default.asp

  12. C Ramesh April 17, 2006 at 5:20 am - Reply

    Hi Guy
    Great stories (except for #5). I am from India. Here the game of cricket is huge, often leading to intense cola wars. When India hosted the World Cup, Coke bagged the official sponsor rights. Pepsi promptly responded with a campaign that had the tag line: ‘Pepsi: Nothing official about it’. In one fell swoop Pepsi converted adversity to opportunity and emerged the winner. The campaign is remembered till date as Pepsi’s most successful one in India.

  13. Smittie April 17, 2006 at 7:43 am - Reply

    I think one of Guy’s fundamental points in his article on driving the competition crazy was to not worry about your competition. Worry about your customer and your business. I think this is reflected well in some of these points.
    In #3, the Levi story, Levi Strauss found a way to expand the casual clothing market. They spent the money and the effort to convince the business that casual was good for business. More companies than just Levi benefitted but Levi benefitted.
    Aloha

  14. AListReview April 17, 2006 at 10:19 am - Reply

    Guy Kawasaki – Take Advantage of Your Competion

    Guy features six ways that companies stymied their competition by thinking differently. The best story, however, was supplied by a commenter:Here the game of cricket is huge, often leading to intense cola wars. When India hosted the World Cup, Co…

  15. SB April 17, 2006 at 10:42 am - Reply

    Guy, ever wonder making a book full of these examples leaving half of the pages empty for the readers to fill it up using their own imagination and situation?

  16. Duncan April 17, 2006 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    Awesome stories. I like the idea of you coming out with a sequel book with more of these stories in them. I’d buy a copy for sure.

  17. john April 17, 2006 at 1:37 pm - Reply

    Hate to puff my blog but I can’t find your email address to send you this. It was inspired by your post
    http://makemarketinghistory.blogspot.com/2006/04/customer-reception.html

  18. john April 17, 2006 at 1:52 pm - Reply

    Ooops, that must be some terrible bloggers faux pas I commited – I assumed you had to approve comments before they appeared and am mortified it posted. As you can tell I am new to all this. Feel free to remove the link.

  19. Darlene April 17, 2006 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Wow, # 6: “The company couldn’t use non-union labor because of snipers on the freeway.” Snipers?! Whatever happened to civilized behavior during conflict…?

  20. Guy Kawasaki April 17, 2006 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Guys,
    Honestly, it was easy to put this list together because I got them from How to Drive Your Competition Crazy. Getting NEW stories like these is very hard. Don’t expect a book about such things from me anytime soon! 🙂
    Guy

  21. kim April 17, 2006 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    Two comparable stories from my native Quebec.
    In Quebec, in the eighties, they passed a bunch of laws making it mandatory to have French be the most prominent language on signs, packaging, etc. In some cases this meant changing the name of the company or at least translating it, which has an affect on your brand (imagine Apple were forced to call itself “Pomme”). This was an effor to prevent American & anglo-canadian culture from eroding the french language and culture. This is what’s known as “trying to stop the tide” 🙂
    Nevertheless, it lead to some funny stories:
    A clothing store called “The Wearhouse”, forced to change it’s name on signs, changed it to the fictional world “La Ouerausse” – which pronounced in french comes out “La Wearhouse”.
    A suburban bakery (Vienna Pastry in Pointe Claire, QC) was cited for not having French more prominent. The owner made the french *slightly* larger than the TWENTY NINE ohter languages he had it translated to, and covered the whole storefront with the translation. He became a local hero fighting what many thought was a waste of tax money, and the press coverage he got was more than he ever could have afforded.

  22. Krasimir [FilmDailies.com April 18, 2006 at 3:29 am - Reply

    Hey Guy, I was re-reading your book last weekend so I knew you’re plagirizing your own work.
    There are plenty of other stories about Virgin Atlantic in the book which I loved too. A must read!

  23. MattV April 18, 2006 at 8:22 am - Reply

    I liked that post. I always like to read about innovative strategies businesses, small and large, implement.

  24. Deepak Shenoy April 18, 2006 at 8:57 am - Reply

    Two other examples:
    – Argentinian company’s advert about how Brazil would get routed in their match against Argentina. And the repartee when Brazil won. (http://underscore.weblogs.us/archives/3)
    – Pepsi vs. Coke in India (where you aren’t allowed to do comparative advertising)
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jackol/3057256/
    Cheers,
    Deepak

  25. Chris Meisenzahl April 19, 2006 at 5:59 am - Reply

    Great post, LOL! 😉
    Chris
    http://amateureconblog.blogspot.com

  26. Michel Leblanc, M.Sc. commerce électronique. Marketing Internet, consultant et conférencier April 19, 2006 at 6:22 am - Reply

    Six histoires de fous

    Guy Kawasaki est un spécialiste reconnu internationalement pour ces conseils de démarrage d’entreprises technos. Il vient de rédiger dans son blogue, six histoires de fous, qui permettent à une entreprise de faire damner la compétition. Voici do…

  27. Fernando April 19, 2006 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    Another real one from Virgin Mobile UK.
    In 2003 a competitor, Orange, launched a big tv campaign that showed an academy of trainers. They were supposed to teach clients about the phone functions they didn’t use (“80% of people use 10% of their phone functions”). The idea was something like encouraging people to go to Orange’s stores (which were redesigned) to learn about their phones, not only to spend.
    Some time later Virgin Mobile launched a very successful viral campaign with a parody of Orange’s ads. It was similar but opposite. They used the same ad structure and shots, but with a deliberate (and very funny) aspect of improvisation. Instead of focusing on learning about the phones they insisted on using phones to call friends (“80% of people use 10% of their friends”, “we are here to forget about phone functions and to phone friends”). And everything was red (Virgin’s color) instead of orange.
    Although I don’t live in the UK I think I can still hear Virgin staff laughing.

  28. Alex's blog April 28, 2006 at 12:40 pm - Reply

    Recent Examle of Driving Competition Crazy

    I read Guys post about driving competition crazy a few days ago and today I see this banner ad on Ars Technica (the banners are rotating so you might have to refresh a few times to see this particular one):
    Nice example of driving competition c…

  29. MikeJSolutions May 10, 2006 at 1:38 pm - Reply

    Just Say No

    I love the concept of “NO” and always have. I was recently recommended a book called, “Getting to Yes”. Though I purchased it because it was recommended, the entire concept of the idea and title turned me off. I still have not finished it.

  30. MP3 Download June 15, 2006 at 10:37 am - Reply

    Startseite – Musicload

    Die Musikdownloadplattform von T-Online mit Songs aus allen Genres. Titel sind im geschtzten Windows…

  31. The Anti-Marketing Marketing Book September 20, 2006 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    What Sticks on Slate…

    Seth Stevens decides to pick a fight with Seth Godin,

    LOL! Great stories, and great article keep up the good work. I love coming here for a great read 😀

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