Nestle’s Funner Menu Option & The Harmon Brothers: Wildly Successful Creativity
In 2009, Nestle (yes, the company that makes that chocolate milk powder you use and SO many other goods you consume) implemented what they called a “Funner Menu Options” in place of their electronic customer service system. The “Funner Menu Options” was nothing short of risky, hilarious, and brave.
If you were to call Nestle’s customer service number, instead of hearing the commonplace “Press 1 for….Press 2 for…press 3 for...with questions dial…”, etc. as all almost all business have, they threw in some crazy and funny stuff.
Here’s an example script my professor shared with me of what you would hear if you were to call Nestle (in 2009 at least).
“Welcome, from Nestle.
For Pig Latin, esprey eethay asteriskway eekay;
For calorie information, press or say 1;
If it is allergy ingredient information you need, press or say 2
To speak to a representative, press or say 0;
For nutritional information on our chocolate treats, press or say 3;
For a knock-knock joke and other ‘funner options’, press or say 4;
Of course, once you entered a number the electronic system would present more options. If you were to press 4, you were presented with these jokes (and many others):
“For more information about cooties press 5”
“For a cannon ball off the diving board press 4”
“For bubble wrap, press 3”
This hilarious menu quickly grabbed the attention of everyday consumers they otherwise wouldn’t have, so much that people began calling Nestle just for a laugh. This campaign brought massive amounts of awareness and attention to Nestle, and, just like Nestle hoped, promoted overall an extremely positive and fun corporate image.
My Questions about Wild Innovation in Entrepreneurship
Here’s the question I’m faced with from all this. How does the average innovative thinker or entrepreneur do this? How do they implement this without absolute failure and catastrophic results? How did Nestle do this so successfully?
One potential cause of Nestle’s success may be that they did not seek to control the conversation around the “Funner Menu Options”. They let the public discuss that, fully, and develop the reactions to Nestle’s new system by themselves. Luckily (maybe, maybe not) that response was positively overwhelming.
In all of this, I think of one company (or actually a few) that have taken the jump of extreme creativity and presented it to the masses with radical success. Like I said before, it’s daring, brave, courageous, wild, radical, and hilarious. And these campaigns were wildly, radically, and hilariously successful, too, as you can see from the massive amount of shares they have over social media and the internet. But this is the exception more than the norm I think, and very few companies are able to implement such creativity and fun without getting a lash from the public for unprofessional business.
The thing about creativity is that it’s risky. I’ve referenced in earlier blogs from psychologist and philosopher Jordan B. Peterson that most creative ideas are actually dangerous. Very few ideas are actually good - and it makes sense why. Each of us, everyday, sifts all our thoughts and ideas repeatedly through vast amount of filters so that we may understand the option that is most optimal to our reality. Innovative thinkers are those who are able to come up with much better and likely much more thoroughly thought out ideas than others, and, are probably those who are simply able to generate more ideas than others. This, at the least, presents them with more possibilities to sift from in the first place.
The companies I’m thinking about are all different companies, but have worked with ONE absolutely brilliant marketing company founded in Provo, Utah - The Harmon Brothers. One of the marketers from there came and spoke at USU a few years back, too, and showed us some fun stuff.
They’ve headed the marketing of the hilarious and massively shared ads from purple, squatty potty, poo-pourri, VidAngel (I think) and so many more. If you haven’t seen these adds, you HAVE to watch them! They will leave you either laughing your head off or feeling terribly awkward (most likely both). If you look at The Harmon Brothers blog, you’ll find awesome and helpful posts like, “My ads are going from poop to gold because of Harmon Brothers” and “How to make your brand memorable when you don’t have a gazillion-dollar budget”.
How do these companies know their creativity will pay off so well? I don’t know. As owner of Motilek Wood Bowties, I’ve thought and become aware of some smaller activities entrepreneurs can engage in to differentiate themselves to their audience. Here are some examples.
- Their packaging, even though similar in function, can look radically different (and fun or creative). This creates a memorable experience with that product. A month or so ago, my wife brought home an egg carton that was beautifully packaged and super colorful on the top, but just had the typical conservative and efficient cardboard on the bottom. It’s really simple, but really memorable!
- They can be willing to share and give out product or services, for free, or at least cheaper. People really do remember the businesses who are generous to others, give out free product or services, have awesome giveaways. These are just small ways, and I’m sure there are other ways of doing this, that ultimately are to show that they are more interested in people enjoying their services and products rather than just buying them. This goes for Motilek - we want people to love our product first and foremost.
- Don’t lie, and be genuine about your business. Whether this is manifest in your blog posts, social media posts, or in interactions with customers, it doesn’t mean you have to walk around displaying your weaknesses (which every business and person has). I would argue that you shouldn’t do that! But from my experiencing, particularly with TimeClick, people appreciate a good story, the struggles, the successes, and the dream in all of it. This is why many people follow you on social media or online - outside of getting coupons of course - because they want to know your story. Lying, in whatever way manifest, will always come back to bite you.
- Make some sacrifices on the ways you currently do things. I used the word sacrifice it’s the exactly the right word to use for this. You need to give up some of your habits or ideas, which is losing a part of you or your business, for perhaps something better in the future. I’ve seen many companies engage with this idea in the past few years by offering employees incredible incentives and rewards, making the employee workplace as fun as can be, and participating in awesome, usually non-profit causes. Malouf, a company that provides awesome bedding supplies is the epitome of this. They spend thousands of dollars on their company chefs to feed their employees each and every day at work which is so untypical of large businesses. They believe it pays off in their employees commitment to the company, and fosters relationship development, creativity, and more communication with others in the company.
In conclusion, creativity can be a risky thing, and I think you’d do best to thoroughly map out all the good and bad consequences that could come from your campaign. Ask yourself “How would people respond? How would I respond if another company did this and I was their customer? What sacrifice does it take, and what are the potential rewards of that sacrifice?”
Why do you think Nestle was so successful in the “Funner Menu Options” instead of catastrophically failing?
What can businesses do to know whether their creativity will bite back or not?