Taking on Taboos: How Allstate, Amazon, and Corning Succeeded by Not Playing It Safe.

November 16, 2017

By Mike O'Toole

PJA follows a marketing philosophy called Branding for Change. We believe that the best way for brands to stand out today is by focusing on the change that favors their unique value. This could mean upsetting the buying process, reframing the category conversation, or shaping the business culture around them.

Our Branding for Change Podcast series focuses on three core ideas in this philosophy. The second idea is about identifying the market gaps your brand can address better than anyone else. A common gap is what we call taboos, areas where conventional brands are afraid to tread, but which can deliver outsized advantage when they are overturned in creative ways that are relevant to buyers.

There have always been taboos in marketing. When the Scott Paper Company invented toilet paper in 1890, they didn't even want to market such an unmentionable under their own name. But taboos aren't just an old-timey problem. Every industry has its conventional wisdom, and its not-supposed-to areas. Great marketers find and upend industry conventions because the point of marketing is to get noticed, not to play it safe. In this podcast Mike O'Toole and Hugh Kennedy from PJA talk about taboos — both out in the market and inside our own companies — that hold us back. We tell the stories of marketers who successfully question the norms in their industries, and share a little advice about how you can turn the tables on taboos in your category.


Mike O'Toole is president of PJA Advertising and host of The Unconventionals Radio Show.


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