Back in 1971, Ilon Specht, a fun, 23-year-old New York advertising copywriter, sat down at her desk at McCann-Erickson, one of the big Madison Avenue agencies. On a wee notepad, she wrote down five words for her client, a large cosmetic company.
“L’Oréal. Because I’m worth it.”
It was huge at the time. In an era of Gloria Steinem and women’s liberation, it totally captured the zeitgeist.
A half-century later, that tagline is still going strong (though granted, they did eventually replace “I’m worth it” with “you’re worth it”, but whatever.)
This line, which took Ilon all of a few seconds to think up and write down, has since created many millions of dollars in brand value, maybe billions.
This is not an essay about how advertising works. This is an essay about how the universe works.
Most ideas that end up being huge, never look that way at the time of their conception. Generally, they look very much like one of many ideas you also came up with that day. Number fourteen on a list of twenty, say.
They only look big after the fact. “Eureka,” moments are surprisingly rare.
Therefore, we recommend that instead of waiting for your next “big idea” to come along, you’d be better off continually coming up with lots of new ideas again and again, with the idea that one will eventually stick. This includes ideas on how you run your company and nurture your internal culture, not just public-facing products, like marketing.
Like Jodie Foster said in 1997’s Contact, “Small moves.”