Back in 1985 when Tommy Hilfiger was a no-name designer, with no special accomplishments to his name, he opened up his first store in Manhattan, and hired ad man George Lois to create a campaign to launch it.
What George came up with was both brilliant and audacious. He created an ad that looked like this:
The first three referred to Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, and Calvin Klein. The last one to Tommy Hilfiger.
Now, remember, Tommy was nothing. The others were big names. And here he was claiming he was on par with them. Basically leeching off of their brand names. What a ballsy move.
In truth, Tommy was embarrassed. When George showed him the ad, he almost had a heart-attack. He wanted to part of it.
But George convinced him to go through with it anyway.
He said “you can spend millions, year after year, and maybe get some name recognition after a decade. Or you can do this and get there instantly. But the product better be damn good, otherwise it’s going to put you out of business.”
They went through with it, Tommy had sleepless nights, and … it worked!
Everyone was talking about who this T… H… might be.
And when it was revealed, he got so much media attention, it quickly became a self-fulfilling prophecy.
In the great documentary Art & Copy, Tommy Hilfiger shares how he didn’t want to do it, he didn’t feel like he could own it. After all, the other three were his big idols.
And boy did people get pissed off. “Who does he think he is? He’s no designer. Ralph and Calvin have been working years and years and years…”
But running the campaign made him roll up his sleeves and work his ass off to prove that he did indeed belong in there.
And the rest is history.
The point here isn’t that you should go out and copy this particular campaign. But way too often we believe that we have to patiently climb the ladder to where we feel like we belong, one mouse step at a time.
But what if there was a way to launch yourself straight to where you belong, from the get-go?
What if the ladder story that you tell yourself is simply one of the hundreds of ways in which you keep yourself down and play small and rob the world of your brilliance?
Are you prepared to become really visible, to let yourself be seen by the world, big-time?
Because you can’t reach your audience if you’re not willing to be seen.