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August 12, 2008


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Marc Meyer

Awhile back On Lee Odden's top rank blog there was a post that caused such a shit storm. From what I can remember, It involved a very distasteful video that was being pushed by a PR firm on behalf of what I'm not sure. The PR firm denied this and that and tried to distance themselves from it and essentially blamed it on a n00b. The company who produced the video denied as well. The bottom line was that it generated wayyyyy too much controversey. In a sense, I could see the big picture, but I have to think they thought it would not be as bad as it ended up.

Another case in point. this blog post http://www.contrarianconsulting.com/blogs-facebook-twitter-and-chance/ generated almost 70 pissed off responses to the post. Why? Because he rubbed people the wrong way. Only problem with that is, you don't want to piss off the blogosphere. Which is what he did. Contoversy works, but it has to be tactical and has to be well thought out. Care to have a New Coke with me David? great post!


Cheryl Smithem

David--you've touched something very primal--the love of a good story. It works in the best fiction and it works in life. Scientific American has a great article http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=the-secrets-of-storytelling about what holds our attention.

Mark Merenda

I once heard conflict (which is much different than controversy, by the way) summed up as: I must, but I cannot.

David Meerman Scott

Mark, Excellent point - conflict and controversy are very different. I;m talking conflict as an important aspect in marketing. There's no controversy at all in that Budweiser TV ad. But there is some excellent conflict. David

Casey Hibbard

Hi David,

Chip Heath and Dan Heath of "Made to Stick" call this "The Challenge Plot." Like David and Goliath, great stories include a challenge and then a successful outcome.

In marketing/PR, the best customer stories aren't just customers saying the product is great. They show challenges faced and overcome, and lessons learned. It's a more authentic way of showcasing results. At once, people learn from that and are inspired.

David Meerman Scott

Well said, Casey. I totally agree. I'll have to tr-read "Made to Stick". David


I remember running ads for a gentleman's club when I worked for a local paper.The ads were tastefully done and showed a nice lady dressed in business suit it read come to such and such club, you never know who you are going to meet! The paper got a call from a lady who said she was the girl in the picture and that we need to stop running the ad. Apparently she is a house wife and has a reputation to protect. The picture was not this lady it was an actual girl who worked at the club. Well a rival paper got part of the story, and printed that there was a married house wife that doesn't want her husband to know she is working at the club! We thought of trying to correct the story with the paper but found out from the club's owner that they have never seen so much business from their ad with us. I guess everyone wanted to see the housewife who was lying to her husband. We decided to let our competitor be wrong.

David Meerman Scott

NNicol - Ha! Great story. Thanks for sharing.

Shaun Dakin


I remembered this and did this a month ago. I learned that California has a little known law on the books that bans robo calls in the entire state. None. Nada.

Little did the CA political world know what was going to hit them.

So, I wrote a press release demanding that the authorities uphold the law or we are going to sue.

Guess what? Front page of the SF Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News, TV, Radio, etc....

Conflict works.

Shaun Dakin

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David, thank you for the blog, its encouraging to know that the economic marketing may be more interesting with a conflict.


David, not sure if you will read this, but I tried watching the video and it apparently has been deleted by Youtube for violation of the rules. Perhaps change or delete it from this post? Anyway, thanks a lot for this helpful blog!

David Meerman Scott

Jan - sorry. Yeah, I guess it was taken down. Thanks

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