Be bold.

Few ad campaigns survive the sizzle of the moment. They tap into a narrative of humanity, and we remember them long after the ad dollars have evaporated. Think Apple, Volkswagen, Coca-Cola.

Here’s a story about a different kind of ad. Now obscured by nearly thirty years, the effects of this one ad campaign single-handedly created a brand you likely still know. In fact, few probably ever remember seeing this ad.

Tommy Hilfiger's bold play

Taking wild chances on his future, Tommy Hilfiger was relentless. Against his family’s direction he pursued an interests in fashion, but the thought of decades apprenticing with “the greats” didn’t appeal to him. Mid-thirties, broke, the young Hilfiger took a leap so bold that it cut the line thin between brilliance and idiocy.

With nearly every dollar Hilfiger was able to cobble together from investors, he bought a giant billboard on Times Square directly across from Ralph Lauren. The board was simple, it read, “The Four Great American Designers For Men are,” and it listed Ralph Lauren, Perry Ellis, and Calvin Klein, and the final puzzle piece spelled TOMMY HILFIGER.

Hilfiger said, “That was the only time in my career I thought about giving up, but I decided to just work very hard and deliver.” Without a widespread line, or a rich pedigree of design success, he boldly proclaimed his seat at the table.

That’s swagger–not because of the sizzle but because of the substance. He not only said it, he proved it. Most of us know we can prove it, but we’re scared as hell to say it. Anything worth doing is worth failing, being humiliated, being disappointed, or even being fired. History has a special place for those that take bold leaps.

Be bold.

Jeremy Floyd

Jeremy Floyd is the President at FUNYL Commerce. Formerly, he was the CEO and President of Lirio, Bluegill Creative, a marketing and communications firm in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the digital strategies, Floyd was an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga MBA program teaching digital strategies and social media. Floyd blogs at and tweets under the name @jfloyd. Jeremy is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from MTSU in English and Philosophy.

  • Benjamin

    great article

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