#15 Offensive or Remarkable?

Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable maintains that traditional marketing no longer works. He writes that businesses need to develop a Purple Cow. That is, “anything phenomenal, counterintuitive, exciting, and remarkable.”  He argues, “Consumers ignore a lot of brown cows, but you can bet they won’t ignore a Purple Cow.”

 He encourages business people to be mavericks; outrageous enough to stand out from the crowd.  Vanilla does not make it according to Godin. He exhorts his readers with phrases like:

  • Go for the edges. Challenge yourself.
  • Safe is risky.
  • A product for everyone is a product for no one.
  • Criticism comes to those who stand out.

 Using the Godin standards above, I think my new CD (Find Your Happy Place!) might have hit the big time! That is, if “offensive” is a Purple Cow.  Let me briefly explain.

 In addition to online sales (iTunes, Napster, Amazon, CD Baby), a few local retailers carry Find Your Happy Place!  A few weeks ago, one of these outlets hosted an election eve party for one of the local primary contests.  The owner mixed my CD into the music shuffle for the gathered audience. 

 A few days later, the proprietor told me that some of the party guests told her they were “offended” by one of my songs. They asked her to remove the CD from the play list.

 “Offended!”  Wow.  Strong word. Goes beyond saying I do not like your voice or songwriting. It is a moral condemnation.  But for the life of me I could not figure out what was offensive.  There is no profanity and I write about what I observe.  Maybe truth offends. Perhaps.

 The song in question is the first track of the CD, Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me).  I got the idea for it after reading a book by the same name. It is about self-justification; about how people find ways, in the face of overwhelming counter evidence, to rationalize what they do and/or believe.  The book is a wonderful read.  I wrote the song from the perspective of people who are quick to blame others for their mistakes. I based the entire song on sarcasm…from the point of view of someone who might believe he/she is correct and the rest of the world is out of step.  I picked four scenarios and sang about how each person might justify his/her actions: a demanding parent of a student; a conniving boss; a double-talking politician; and a cheating spouse. Musically, it has a great Jimmy Reed-type of groove that my good friend Billy Bowers added on lead guitar. With Billy’s nimble fingers and Mike Shackelford’s bluesy harp, the song cooks (in my humble opinion).

 Now, maybe I should rename the song Mistakes Were Made (But Not By Me—and By The Way This Is All Done With Tongue Firmly Implanted In Cheek!).

 Or just maybe this “offensive” song is “remarkable” enough to send the CD to the top of the charts.  After all, Godin says, “Criticism comes to those who stand out.”

Whatever happens, I haven’t stopped smiling since hearing the news.  Mistakes were made—but not by me. 

 © Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog, 2010.

About stevepiscitelli

Facilitator-Author-Teacher
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6 Responses to #15 Offensive or Remarkable?

  1. jeff peters says:

    so what was it that the offended considered offensive? the fact that they saw/heard themself in the lyrics and didn’t like it?

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  2. TCA says:

    Steve, great blog entry with a hook I couldn’t resist. If you offended folks at a political fundraiser with a satirical look at blaming politicos, then you must have hit the nail firmly on the head. A “remarkable” achievement. This strikes me as a perfect metaphor for people who hear but do not truly listen…. Hmmmm….wasn’t that who you were writing about? Keep up the musical sarcasm, my friend. It is offensively refreshing.

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  3. Barbara says:

    I can totally relate! I have always been a “purple cow”. I found out years ago that to stand out is to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the crowd. I was a hairstylist in Utah, as a black woman, I was considered a double minority. Needless to say that there are few minorities in Utah. I broke the stereotypical thinking that there was “black” hair and “white” hair types, hair is hair. This thinking was my standout trademark from beauty school all the way to the stage as a platform stylist.I feel that my attitude about hair changed stereotypical thinking in ways more than how Utah hairstylists see hair types.

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  4. Great story, Barbara! Keep being remarkable!

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  5. Madeline says:

    Remarkable and the purple cow, what a great relation. I have learned over a lot of time that my opinion matters, even in a room full of people I admire and who may even know better. Their view of me doesn’t make or break me, being remarkable is being who you want to be, truly. I admire you for putting music out for the world to hear and to ultimately judge. People are complex and we have walls up we didn’t even know existed. I have been to plenty of parties that had music and it sure didn’t sound like the purpose of the party was to listen to your cd. Your song caught their ear, it caught their defenses. We reject poison in all it’s forms, the truth could be one of those, maybe even envy. Telling the world you understand a fault of others or even yourself evokes something maybe they can not come to terms to admit. It could be as simple as someone looking at just the surface of the lyrics, which is quite ignorant. A song without a meaning, can’t say I’ve heard one before, that’s just me.

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