Some time ago, I was reminiscing about some of my favorite commercials, and a number of them came to mind. As a former Xerox employee, I was always a fan of many of the Xerox commercials. There was the Brother Dominic “Monks” commercial series, and a long series of successful Super Bowl commercials. Those commercials were so good that if you left the room, you’d run back in the room to watch if one came on.
But Xerox wasn’t the only company putting together creative commercials. FedEx was right on their heels, and unlike Xerox, they have continued to produce creative commercials. One in particular comes to mind, and it’s referred to as “The Stolen Idea.”
The commercial takes place in a conference room, with a team of executives looking for ideas to cut costs. One person provides what appears to be a good idea. After a pause, and no reaction from the group, the boss presents the same exact idea. When the group celebrates the boss’s idea, the frustrated individual who initially came up with the idea says: “You just said the same thing I said – only you did this” and he gestures with his hands. The boss replies: “No, I did this,” and he gestures in a slightly different manner. Everyone at the table agrees with the boss and they congratulate him, and the commercial ends. (Click on the video above and take a look.)
When you Google “FedEx Ad Stolen Idea, ” you’ll see a lot written about this commercial, and most of it isn’t good. It’s not the commercial that gets blasted, but the fact that credit is often not given to those who deserve it. Many claim that the employees are blindly supporting their bosses. Look at the YouTube comments and it gets even nastier, and you’ll see a degree of bitterness probably coming from those who have had their ideas stolen in the past.
I believe there’s a completely different message that’s being missed within this commercial. Watch the commercial again. This time focus on the individual who initially presents his idea and be aware of his delivery. His idea is a good one, but it’s delivered in a dull and uninspired manner. There is no passion, and although his words carry meaning, those words are lost in his bland delivery.
On the other hand, watch the boss and you’ll see he does more than just repeat those words. The boss sells those words with his pitch, tone, facial expressions, gestures, and body language. When the boss corrects the underling and he points out how he gestured and spoke the same words in a different way, the first thing you’ll hear from those around him is this: “It makes all the difference.” And they happen to be right.
“This” happens to be a critical part of any message you deliver. The “7%-38%-55% Rule” by Albert Mehrabian presents factual proof that 7% of the actual emotional impact of our message comes from the words we use. That’s the part we hear delivered by the first individual. But words alone do not move others to action. 38% of the emotional impact of our message comes from our nonverbal cues, which you’ll see in the boss’s hand gestures, and posture. The remaining 55% of the impact comes from our facial expressions, which you’ll see front and center in the boss’s face.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a salesperson, a manager, a presenter, or a parent: If you want your words to carry weight and be heard, you need to learn how to do “this.” Once you learn how to do “this,” you’ll be well on your way to moving those around you to do “that!”