When Harry and I helped Mal MacDougall and Ed Eskandarian put together HBM Advertising’s new business presentation we were trying to figure out what made many of the agency’s commercials work so well. What was there in common between “Kids Get Something Wonderful When They Get a Lionel. They Get Dad.”, calling the original Massachusetts State Lottery “The Game” because lotteries were evil, positioning Salada Tea as “The Coffee Drinker’s Tea*,” and defining winter boots with grit imbedded on the bottom as, “Studded Snow Tires for Your Feet.”
Harry and I suggested calling this approach, “psychological equity,” but Mal said, “That’s too complicated for Christ’s sake. It’s an accepted premise.” The agency’s new Accepted Premise presentation helped double our size in less than a year because it made advertising a bit more of a science, versus a crap shoot depending on what the creative were smoking that day. (Just kidding guys)
Come to find out, Mal had been using the accepted premise philosophy for a long time, including his Burger King “It takes two hands to handle a Whopper” tag line, for which he is widely credited. Supposedly Mal was watching a focus group of Burger King devotees when one of them spontaneously blurted out the line.
I couldn’t help but think of Mal recently when I saw this funny Burger King TV spot. The poor guy can’t handle a Whopper because of his tiny hands. But no problem, he’s got a friend who will help him out so they won’t have to go to MacDonald’s where they sell smaller burgers. (See this hilarious TV spot at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C89uOeDL9Gw)
What a Shame. Tiny Hands “Can’t Even Handle a Whopper Junior.”
So the next time you’re considering a tag line, a name, a social media theme, or a campaign slogan, remember that an accepted premise will get your message greater impact because it resonates with people immediately. (And no, the guy above is not related to Donald Trump.)
*Mark Meyers came up with “The Coffee Drinker’s Tea” line, Mal loved it, and Harry and I conducted field research which proved it was a huge opportunity. Salada management could not resist the accepted premise line and the research findings, so they awarded us the account, moving it from NCK in New York. I love it when that happens.