Rory Sutherland: Life lessons of an Ad Man

Speaker: Rory Sutherland

Length: 19:12

Summary

The talk is focused around the value of intangibles, specifically from the perspective of advertising. He tells us that all value is subjective, BUT an intangible change can be just as satisfying as a physical change. Frederick the Great, of Prussia, wanted more the country to adopt potatoes as their primary crop. But people thought potatoes looked ugly, tasted weird, and farmers had no desire to grow them. Frederick realized the farmers would rather be jailed than forced to grow potatoes. So he took a new approach, and decided to re brand the potato – changing its perceived value. He declared that potatoes were only for the royal grew them in his garden, protected around the clock by his guards. Not long after, people gathered to create an underground potato market.

Rory tells another story about the creation of intangible value that he experienced in his own work. An intern was given a task to create a new advertising campaign for the popular cereal Shreddies. Shreddies are the equivalent of chex mix – square shaped pieces of wheat. Instead of making a change to the product, the company focused on changing how people perceived it. This was the result:

The analogy is clear: We need to learn to appreciate things that already exist before creating new things.

“When you place a value on things like health and love and learn to place a material value on what you’ve previously discounted for being merely intangible … you realize you’re much, much wealthier than you ever imagined.”

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