Topical Guide 159
Contests and Competitions: Techniques for Winning
“[M]y father is such a pushover for those two. … He’s out on the dock with them now, thinking up names. They’ve got about sixty entries already written out.”
“Sixty?” I exclaimed. I had imagined that I would enter one name, one top-notch name, one name that was the product of weeks of satisfying effort, the one name that survived after I had rejected hundreds of others as second-rate or worse, one name of such transcendent aptness that it couldn’t lose. It didn’t strike me as appropriate to send in every name that popped into my head. …
I abandoned immediately the approach that I had intended to take and adopted theirs. Over the course of the next five or six weeks, we submitted, among the four of us (five, counting Mr. Lodkochnikov, whose names went in under Margot or Martha’s sponsorship), more than a thousand names for the school.
Little Follies, “Take the Long Way Home”
Throw it against the wall and see what sticks.
Often used to describe a haphazard approach to presenting a motley product line, batch of ideas, etc. “Well, let’s just throw these against the wall and see what sticks.”
Mike Whitaker, “The 10 Worst Phrases to Use at the Office,” Idea Gateway
Marketers used to call this shotgun method of chasing a bunch of rabbits at the same time the “spray and pray” approach. I still see it, especially in the area of new [consumer packaged goods] introductions, where the idea seems to be that sheer volume and variety—tossing dozens of different products into the market as rapidly as possible—is deemed the key to successful innovation rather than adopting a more targeted and limited approach based on consumer research and testing, followed by launching a few strong contenders and then constantly iterating from there. . . . More isn’t necessarily better—only better is better—and less is often more.
Howard Tullman, “Throwing Ideas Against the Wall to See What Sticks is a Recipe for Failure,” Inc.
One day, while [Rosetta Glynn] was shopping at the Babbington Market, she noticed beside the cash register a pad of coupons. She tore one from the pad and read what it said.
“Are they kidding?” she asked Mr. Delmonico, who supervised the fruit-and-vegetable department.
“Kidding?” he asked.
“Do they think I would want to eat these string beans on a beach in Miami?”
“I don’t know. It’s just a gimmick.”
“Do they really give you this? A trip to Miami?”
“Sure. There’s only one prize, I guess, but somebody gets it.” Rosetta tore one of the coupons from the pad, took a pencil from her purse, and, with hardly a moment’s hesitation, wrote, “I’d rather eat Troubled Titan Brand French Cut String Beans almost anywhere but where I find myself, drowning in a sea of doubt, sinking in tempestuous darkness while all around me, great sea-worms writhe and scream, ecstatic with the smell of me, and hungry, hungry, hungry.”
Mr. Delmonico read it. “You haven’t got a chance,” he said.
At Home with the Glynns
[more to come on Friday, December 24, 2021]
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