Chrysler's 1979 rescue: the power of a good metaphor to change people’s minds

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In 1979 Chrysler was in deep, deep trouble. The third largest US automaker was near bankruptcy. 

To avoid collapse Chrysler needed a $1.5 billion loan from the U.S. federal government. 

But Congress was against it.

"If Chrysler wasn't making cars people wanted to buy, why should the Government step in and send money?"

That's what most US Congressmen & Congresswomen thought about the Chrysler bailout.

Senator William Proxmire (Democrat, Wisconsin), the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, even wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times saying that bailing out Chrysler, "would be a disaster for American business, for the American economy and for the American taxpayer."

But Chrysler's CEO Lee Iacocca knew a thing or two about persuasion. He realized that part of the problem was a framing problem because of the language that was being used. 

Bailout is a dirty word, "a colorful metaphor. It conjures up images of a leaky boat foundering in rough seas. It implies the crew was inadequate."

A metaphor is a collision of two apparently unrelated things. When you throw them together to describe something, magic happens. You paint a new reality with words. 

So Iacocca framed the loan not as a bailout but as a "safety net". He argued that the Government is in the business of providing a safety net for its citizens. And Chrysler was no different because they had a large workforce. And they were all American citizens. 

Iacocca also argued that Chrysler was an assembly company. They had 11,000 suppliers and 4,000 dealers. And most of those people were small businesses, not big corporations. 

No Politician wanted to deny a hardworking American worker a safety net, so Congress said yes. And Lee Iacocca got the $1.5 billion loan he wanted. All thanks to a powerful metaphor.

Your pal,

Miguel Ferreira
Founder & Chief Copywriter, Teardwn + Nishi + Jack Had A Groove FM

(Good copywriting that helps you sell more this year than last. Work with me)


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Suspension bridges and backpacks. How unusual combinations can lead to BIG ideas

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John Fabel is an American inventor, entrepreneur and industrial designer. John is also an outdoor enthusiast and a huge cross country ski fan.

Cross country skiing is a winter sport but it's a lot like walking. It's perfect for anyone with enough muscle to climb a set of stairs. Or for anyone with a decent sense of balance to ride a bike.

But cross country skiing is hard. Because it involves lots of falling and struggling up hills.

John loved the sport, but he noticed one thing that bothered him. After long hours of cross-country skiing, his backpack straps always bruised his shoulders. Every. Single. Time.

One day on a trip to New York City, John was observing the engineering of the World famous Brooklyn bridge.

Then an eureka moment strikes, "What if I could design a backpack that would get the weight to pull toward your back rather than away from it?"

After he saw the Brooklyn Bridge, John figured out a solution to his cross country skiing problem. A backpack that "distributes the weight evenly, like a suspension bridge."

And this was how a new, 85% made from recycled materials and more comfortable backpack was born in 1995. The EcoTrek backpack, an innovative backpack that comes with a hip belt to transfer weight from your shoulders to your back.

As Daniel Pink says, “Sometimes the most powerful ideas come from simply combining two existing ideas nobody else ever thought to unite”.

Your pal,

Miguel Ferreira
Founder & Chief Copywriter, Teardwn + Nishi + Jack Had A Groove FM

(Work with me)


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The art “do desenrasca” to solve business problems. And how a $0-budget movie became America's No. 1 film

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Imagine the problem. 

March 2020. Movie theaters across America have to close because of a pandemic. Hollywood is paralyzed. Movies are delayed. 

So what do you do if you're an indie filmmaker? 

It started as a joke, "Any film we put in a theater would instantly top the box office."

But later filmaker Christian Nilsson and YouTuber Eric Tabach saw an opportunity in the coronavirus crisis.

Nilsson and Tabach realized there was a loophole. In the film distribution industry there's a thing called “four-walling".

When distributors rent out a movie theater and buy all the seats, that's four-walling. You pay a flat fee to rent the theater, and 100% of the box office revenue is yours. 

So Nilsson decides to write a script for a short horror film. He writes it in one day and calls the movie Unsubscribe

Tabach asks a few friends (actors and YouTubers) if they can star in the movie. 

They say yes, and they'll do it for free. 

The plot is simple. Five YouTubers join an online video-call. Then they find themselves haunted and hunted by a mysterious internet troll.

They shoot the movie in only five days in May, and use Zoom to film everything. 

On 10 June, Nilsson and Tabach rent out a theater in Westhampton Beach to screen Unsubscribe

Only two people watched it, Nilsson and Tabach. But that didn't really matter, because the next day Unsubscribe was the No.1 box office movie in America. 

In Portuguese we have a word that describes perfectly what Nilsson and Tabach did: Desenrascar.

de · sen · ras · car (that's how you pronounce it). 

Desenrascar means the art of solving any problem like MacGyver. Simply and inexpensively. You have to use the tools you have and find a way to fix a problem. 

Your pal,

Miguel Ferreira
Founder & Chief Copywriter, Teardwn + Nishi + Jack Had A Groove FM


If you enjoyed this email, can you do me a solid favor and forward it to a friend? Thanks, you're a legend! 🙏

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