When Breaking the Rules is a Good Thing

If a friend approached you and said, “We’re considering making our brand the centerpiece of a fatal accident in an upcoming movie,” what advice would you give?

Mine, possibly much like yours, would be a strong no. But for a team of FedEx marketers, it was a yes, and that yes turned out to be a product-placement jackpot in the movie Cast Away, according to the Chicago Tribune. The FedEx marketing team thought long and hard about the decision, but ultimately decided that the script highlighting the company’s humble origins, its global reach and can-do spirit outweighed the aircraft disaster. And they were right. Because the marketers found a way to focus on their brand throughout the movie and not just their product in a specific set of scenes, they effectively built positive sentiment around the company, despite the seemingly destructive circumstances. 

It’s common for thought leaders to discuss trends and best practices. But what about when best practices don’t work? What about when breaking the rules leads to unprecedented success? It’s in those exceptions that I hope to shed light on the value of breaking the rules. 

This upcoming blog series focuses on times when companies and individuals strayed from the norm, exceeded expectations and taught us something new. Whether these examples are local or national, current or “old classics,” this series will explain the why. Rather than just summarizing how the disruptor disrupted, we’ll be exploring what made the exception the exception.

If you’re a rulebreaker – or want to become one – just click “follow.”