“If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way,” said Napoleon Hill. This got me thinking about the significance of “small.” It’s the “small things” that have been changing and influencing our lives. Back in the 1960’s everyone was making big long cars. Doyle Dane Bernbach was hired by this company to create a campaign to promote an ugly looking car. It took a small headline to shake up the whole automobile market and changed all the existing rules of advertising forever. The headline read “Think Small”. Bernbach’s “Think Small” advertisement for the Beetle car was actually an exercise in thinking big. This ad catapulted the Beetle into fame and sales of the car (which no one gave much chance to succeed) actually broke all records and expectations. Not surprising then that in the list of the top 100 advertising campaigns, Volkswagen stands tall at the very top with its “Think Small” campaign that Bernbach created in 1959.
In fact, it was the “big” that drove Detroit into a ditch. GM, Ford and Chrysler had been America’s symbol of economic might and prosperity. They totally ignored the small and concentrated on big cars only. But it was the small and fuel efficient cars of Japan that helped them capture the US car market. In August 2008, the American car industry saw a drop in sales by 11%. Japanese carmaker Honda, on the other hand, out performed the sliding US auto industry with its US sales up by 1.2%. In 2007, Americans bought 55 light trucks for every 45 passenger cars. In July 2008, the ratio inverted and so did the fortunes of car companies. It’s the ones who focused on “small” that survived.
Toyota was another company that grew in an unprecedented manner and dominated the global car-market. Its hybrid car model, Prius became a best seller. But today, all is not well at Toyota City in Japan. The company has been hit badly by the slowdown. All eyes are focused on Akio Toyoda, the grandson of Toyota’s founder Sakichi Toyoda. In his first press conference ever, he said that the company had over extended itself in an effort to make big cars for the American market, forgetting completely that it was “small” which was responsible for its success. It’s time the company went back-to-basics and revamped its strategy, he said. Toyota City wanted to become like the Detroit of America – with car sales plummeting and unemployment increasing, the city is scarily coming close to fulfilling its dream.
It’s time to turn to “small” to survive. For that’s the way Ford has been able to survive. It’s the only US automaker that has not filed for bankruptcy because among other things, the first thing it did was sell off its big nonprofit table cars Jaguar and Land Rover to Ratan Tata. Alan R. Mulally, Ford’s CEO knew that the future was “small” and with this sale, Ford secured its future. In July, its sales rose 2.3% from last year, thanks to the increase in demand for small, fuel-efficient cars! The news made Ford the first among the major American carmakers to report a sales increase in the US this year. Small creates big impact – remember the atom bomb and how it altered Japanese and world history forever. Read More....
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