I love Dave Trott’s comments on the Brand Republic website. The veteran advertising creative is a pearl of wisdom in beautifully crafted, simple arguments. Here’s one about airlines and customer service:
Having some skin in the game
Max Forsyth is a photographer.
He was telling me about the time he flew from Israel to Cairo, on El Al.
He went to the airport to check in.
A young woman checked his luggage.
She was very thorough, but Max expected that.
Israel knows it’s surrounded by hostile states.
Being wary of terrorist bombs is almost second nature.
And so she was perfectly pleasant, friendly and chatty, as she went through his luggage.
When she’d finished Max said goodbye.
The young woman said “Oh, I’ll see you on board.”
Max said “Are you flying to Cairo?”
She said “I have to, it’s El Al policy.”
Max said “Why? Do you live in Cairo?”
She said “No, I live here, in Israel.”
Max said “How come you’re flying to Cairo?”
She said “Standard El Al procedure. If you check the passengers’ luggage, you have to fly on the plane.”
How about that?
The person who inspects the passengers’ luggage for bombs has to bet their life on how well they do their job.
That’ll concentrate your mind.
Imagine if we had to do our job like that.
Like it was really, really important to us.
As they say in New York “Having some skin in the game”.
Maybe not our life, that would be silly.
But how about our house?
If we had to bet our house on our decisions, would we make the same decisions?
Would we make them the same way?
Would creatives be fighting for the latest esoteric/trendy technique just so they could win an award?
Knowing that if the ordinary consumers didn’t understand the ad they’d lose their house?
Would planners be recommending changing the advertising based on what a couple of focus groups said?
Knowing they were betting their mortgage on the result?
Would account men be willing to change whatever the client wanted to change, just to keep them happy?
Knowing they were betting their house on the client’s whim?
Would clients be quite so eager to get their own way, just because they could?
Even if getting their own way might cost them their house?
Or would everyone take their decisions a bit more seriously?
Would they weigh all the implications before they acted?
Would they carefully consider everyone else’s point of view?
Put their ego aside.
Look at everything from every possible angle.
Make sure nothing is left to chance.
Instead of just getting their own way.
Of course, everyone has some skin in the game.
People can lose their jobs.
But you can get another job.
Unlike El Al, no one bets their life.
Which is the reason El Al has a reputation as the safest airline to fly if you’re worried about terrorist bombs.