Virgil Winston: Marketing Guru

Dedicated readers may have noticed my sudden, unexpected and unexplained leave of absence. My unfortunate sabbatical was due to a near career ending double hand injury I suffered while attempting to change the blades in my lawnmower. I won’t go into all the gory details, since I know many of you take in my column whilst enjoying your morning bran flakes or wolfing down a pastrami on rye with mustard during your abbreviated lunch hours. Suffice to say, I lost the use of three fingers on my left hand and the all important pointer finger on my right, rendering me quite incapable of typing or even holding a pen. I tried dictating my blog to Mrs. Winston, but the strain of playing nursemaid and secretary proved to be too much. I hired a string of assistants, each of whom quit rather suddenly, claiming they couldn’t follow my stream of consciousness “ramblings.” I decided to take my inability to find good help as a sign that I needed a break and did something I haven’t done since 12th grade…I called in sick.

I used my time off to relax, recharge and catch up on my movie watching. I enrolled in a terrific service that mails up to eight movies at time right to the house—for two months the highlight of my day was walking down to the mailbox and finding a bright red envelope waiting for me. Having been busy writing several marketing books, fulfilling speaking engagements and writing my blog, I haven’t had much time to indulge in movie watching, so this was a rare treat. After taking in roughly twenty films in seven days, I noticed something rather amazing and undeniably brilliant—product placement. For those of you who never miss the latest release, this probably comes as no surprise, but I was astonished at the sheer number and variety of products “placed” in the hands, on the desks and in the bedrooms of the biggest starts in Hollywood. Asking Julia Roberts to endorse a product in a commercial would cost millions, but film her holding a Snickers bar in the latest chick flick and you’ve got advertising money can’t buy. The implied endorsement is nothing short of genius; it’s subtle, impactful and slightly sneaky—all the components of a quality marketing campaign.

Today’s lesson is taken right out of the Hollywood playbook. Think of your everyday work life like it’s your own Hollywood movie, and place your products in the hands of the “celebs” of your world. You might not be able to persuade George Clooney to be photographed drinking from an 11 oz. Duo Tone Mug imprinted with your company logo, but you can get your brand into the hands of those who matter most, the CEOs, tastemakers and decision makers who rule your universe. Of course, you may not be able to reach Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Donald Trump, Howard Schultz or John Thain, but you can probably get the VPs and VIPS in your business to show off your logo if you employ a little creativity. This is the time you want to think about spending a little more and spring for something a bit classier, like the Cutter & Buck American Classic 20 Leather Duffel. The classic styling of this all-leather duffel will make this a gift that is well appreciated and well used. Remember, when those who matter carry your logo, it matters more. Then you, like Sally Field can say, “you like me, right now, you like me!” It’s good to be back.