Piotr Jakubowski – Mind over Marketing

Getting Dirty While Staying Clean

One Dirty ManIn one of my recent posts about Michael Phelps I mentioned how his brand has been stretched a little too far in the wake of his record-breaking success in Beijing.

A few months ago I had the pleasure of working for a large construction equipment manufacturer at the CONEXPO – CON/AGG tradeshow in Las Vegas. CONEXPO occurs every three years and consists of the who’s who of the construction industry. In my work with the manufacturer, I had the chance to interact with Mike Rowe for the entire span of the tradeshow. Mike Rowe is the host/victim of the popular show “Dirty Jobs” on Discovery, and through my three days of work with him I realized that Mike has his brand under control.

Although having held numerous jobs and roles in the past, Mike is known as the guy who does the dirty work. He’s known to his fans as the guy who cleans bird poop at a chicken farm, sweeps chimneys, shears alpacas and handles baggage. There are two remarkable things about the show.


  1. 90% of the jobs are collected through user-submission – engaging the fans, the people who actually complete these jobs, with the program
  2. Mike Rowe and Discovery truly understand his audience both on and off the air

In February 2008, FastCompany officially labeled “Dirty Jobs” a megabrand, and indicated that Mike Rowe had become a hot commodity for advertisers with his extremely unique access to a certain demographic. In the process, Rowe has sidestepped deals for reality TV shows, hosting activities and acting roles. Why? Credibility.

What Mike and his team has understood is the idea of credibility. One thing that he consistently mentioned during the tradeshow is “maintaining the brand image” and “not selling out”. Through the success of the show he has almost single-handedly brought attention to “people who make civilized life possible.” One of the questions he consistenly asked was “how can all that brilliance be ignored?” By not selling out, Rowe and the Dirty Jobs brand is keeping true to the demographic with which it has the closest ties.

In the meantime he has picked up sponsorships with Ford, Whirlpool, HP and done speaking events for companies such as Motorola or Yahoo. Despite being approached by Toyota, Rowe felt that Ford, as an American company, fit much better with their image as well as the demographic. What else would the guy with dirty work drive than a Ford F-150.

With well thought out planning, Rowe and his team has managed to maintain the authenticity that appeals to the tastes of this group of individuals, while not alienating the other viewers – those who love watching the Discovery channel. Steering clear of the lucrative temptations that have peppered the rising popularity of the show, Dirty Jobs has managed to stay raw, rugged and most importantly – dirty. 


The Man with the Scraggly Beard
November 10, 2008, 11:44 pm
Filed under: Business, marketing, mystery, passion, richard branson, spontaneous, virgin


Richard Branson

Richard Branson - CEO in Spandex

Yes. Richard Branson.

I recently finished yet another book about the ways of this entrepreneur, adventurer, business man and family man. The first book I read was an autobiography called Losing My Virginity and I most recently finished Business The Richard Branson Waya foray into his style of work.

One thing that really caught my attention was Branson’s ability to garner extremely large amounts of publicity, without spending money. That fact goes hand in hand with the idea that you don’t necessarily have to be the leader in any one category in order to rise through the ranks and gain attention. And you sure don’t have to have a multimillion dollar budget to achieve it.

Richard Branson’s forays into the world of adventure – his attempts to cross the Atlantic in a speedboat, circumnavigate the world in a balloon and fly into space have placed him on the map. And with it, his company. There are not very many CEOs in the world as recognizable – Gates, Jobs and maybe Welch being the select few. There are certainly not very many CEOs in the world recognized for their endeavors outside the business world. Could you even imagine Bill Gates suspended in a hot air balloon, or Jack Welch trying to sail across the Atlantic? Neither could I.  

Now what effect has this had on the Virgin brand? Branson is known as the image of Virgin, and every time he goes out on one of his adventures, it is associated with the Virgin name. Instead of spending extremely large amounts of money on advertising against Coke and Pepsi in the US, he rolled out Virgin Cola by driving a tank into Times Square and firing at a Coke vending machine. For the price of renting a tank and setting up the scene, Virgin graced newspapers worldwide.


Through a well-developed P.R. strategy, taking extreme (but relatively calculated risks) and just being a die-hard child of the 60’s, Branson has single-handedly created one of the most successful and interesting conglomerates in the world.

The 4P’s Applied
October 26, 2008, 10:55 pm
Filed under: advantage, advice, attitude, Business, learning

A while back I wrote about the 4P’s, an idea passed down to me by one of my mentors – John Bowman at Saatchi & Saatchi. 

A few weeks ago I had the wonderful, albeit stressful, opportunity to test this theory. Unfortunately, I had run into a few visa problems when trying to re-enter the country on my student training extension. Within a week I was:

  • Denied entry to the US on both my visas – extensive time at the border
  • Stranded in Canada with just the clothes on my back, my car, my laptop and my camera
  • Informed on the day I was supposed to start work in the US that I would have to wait 6-10 weeks for an appointment in Canada
  • Flying back to Indonesia the next morning, arriving the following evening
  • Appointment and interview at the US embassy the next morning
  • Fly back a week later – complete with “random” screenings on ever leg
  • Flying through Chicago to get to Toronto – and getting stopped at the border again
  • Taking just a 6 hour break between 45 hrs of flight travel and an 8 hr drive
The entire process was mentally and physically straining, but it was important to remember that there was always an answer to all of the questions, and the end was always there. The goal was to make sure I wasn’t away long enough to lose my job. I returned – beaten and battered – to start work two weeks after I was supposed to.
Persistence is key, and I know that I learned through this personal experience that the 4P’s are true. 

Passion Plus Perseverance Prevails

  • Fuel your passion
  • Steel your resolve to persevere
  • Picture yoursellf prevailing over obstacles
  • Achieving goals

Self Promotion
September 30, 2008, 8:52 pm
Filed under: advantage, Business

I’ve mentioned before the importance of promoting yourself as a brand. You are your best brand, and what better way to promote yourself than through creative business cards. Billions of business cards are handed out each year, and it’s a perfect opportunity to stand out.


Call it your elevator speech, but without the words. A way to throw a curveball when the other person least expects it.


Check these out for some great ideas: Innovative Self Branding.

Birthday Gift
September 17, 2008, 7:24 am
Filed under: Business, kevin roberts

Just in time for my birthday at the end of the week, Kevin Roberts posted my guest blog article on his blog. I wrote about a British TV show called Top Gear, which has been taking the world by storm in the last few years.


Check it out here:

Three Boys and Their Toys

The Effective Handshake
November 12, 2007, 12:48 am
Filed under: advice, Business, communication, Excellence, handshake, image, reputation

A few days ago I wrote about the different types of “bad” handshakes.

After attending an etiquette dinner sponsored by our school, I learned a few tips about the most effective handshake.

1. Stand up – It’s important and effective to respect the person by standing up.

2. Extend your hand first – This shows confidence on your part, and your interest in meeting the person

3. Full contact, firm shake – Nobody wants a “dead fish” or the “four finger”

4. 2-3 Shakes – This is enough contact to get the point across. As our educator mentioned, “you don’t want to hold the person hostage”

5. Eye contact – Shows respect and that your full attention is on the other person

6. Smile – Nothing warms the relationship up more than a smile at the end.

Another quick fact that our educator mentioned.

In the first 60 seconds of meeting someone, people make up to 11 judgments.

That’s in 60 SECONDS!

An effective handshake will sway the judgment for the better.

Which Handshake Are You?
November 6, 2007, 12:38 am
Filed under: advice, Business, handshake, image, reputation

Saw a great article about the importance of a solid handshake.

More often than not, I feel faced with people whose handshakes are ludicrous, and do not reflect on their confidence at all. Here are the worst ones:

“The “macho cowboy”… is the almost bone-crunching clasp many businessmen use to shake hands. What are they trying to prove, anyway? There’s no need to demonstrate your physical strength when shaking another person’s hand.

The wimp… is usually delivered by men who are afraid to “hurt the little lady” when shaking women’s hands. Modern female professionals expect their male counterparts to convey the same respect they’d show their male colleagues.

The “dead fish”… conveys no power. While there’s no need to revert to the macho cowboy death grip, a firm clasp is more powerful than one that barely grabs the hand.

The “four finger”… is when the person’s hand never meets your palm, and instead clasps all four fingers, crushing them together.

The cold and clammy… feels like you’re shaking hands with a snake. Warm up your hand first before grabbing someone else’s.

The sweaty palm… is pretty self-explanatory, and pretty gross. Talcum powder to the rescue.

The “I’ve got you covered” grip… happens when the other person covers your hand with his or her left hand as if your shake is secretive.

The “I won’t let go”… seems to go on for eternity because the other person won’t drop his or her hand. After two or three pumps, it’s time to let go. “It’s a lot like a kiss — you know when it’s over,” Brody says.

The “southpaw”… happens when the person uses the left hand to shake because the right hand has food or a drink. Always carry your drink and plate with your left hand to keep your right one free for meet and greets.

The “ringed torture”… occurs when the person’s rings hurt your hand. Try to limit the number of rings you wear on the right hand to only one or two and be mindful of any that have large stones.”

Just like bad breath, a bad haircut, a bad suit and a bad tie will compromise your reputation, a weak handshake will do no better.

Which one are you? Which one do you dislike the most?