Don’t Be A Curly Fry

A Lesson in Marketing from Family Feud

On the 40-year-old game show Family Feud, it pays to think like everyone else, but as marketers, it can be easy to default to the “clever” mindset. What’s different? What’s never been done before? How can we be the first?

It happens all too frequently during a brainstorming session. The obvious or natural is ignored, and the desire to be different takes over the creative process. We forgo the standard edition (SE) and head straight for the luxury edition (LE), guns-a-blazing. Then, before you know it, all the bells and whistles in the LE start breaking down and you wish you would’ve just considered the SE. Back to square one.

I’ll never forget one of my high school assignments was to compare myself to an inanimate object. I chose salad dressing (for good reasons, I’m sure, although they now escape me) while this wannabe hipster in my class chose “curly fries.” Curly fries among straight-cut fries to be exact. My teacher loved it, but I saw right through that desperate attempt to be unlike everyone else. Doesn’t trying to be different make you like everyone else?

Car and fry metaphors aside, the point I’m getting at is that being straightforward can be a successful marketing strategy. Some of the best marketing crusades in history have been to-the-point and uncomplicated. Just do it. Got milk? Ring a bell anyone? These taglines are more than 20 years old but have withstood the evolution of marketing. The campaigns that have surrounded them haven’t necessarily been revolutionary- just relatable.

If I was a contestant on Family Feud and was asked, “Name something every marketer should do,” I would say to “consider the obvious.” What is a natural fit for marketing the product or service? What is culturally related to the product or service? These are questions that should be answered.

Don’t be caught with your blinders on and whatever you do, don’t claim to be a curly fry. Stay true to your brand and concern yourself with delivering a sincere message. That’s what being original is. That’s what will set you apart. That’s what will make you different.


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