There’s a moment in the film Rocky II (the one in which the stage is set for a rematch with his heavyweight opponent Apollo Creed) when Rocky, played by Sylvester Stallone, is at his wife’s hospital bedside.

She has been in a coma for several days. Prior to her illness she begged him to give up boxing. He’s resolved (since she fell into a coma) to throw in the towel and is waiting and hoping for her to recover.

Eventually her eyes open. He’s overjoyed. After a few moments in a faint voice she calls him across and whispers to him. “There’s one thing I want you to do for me,” she says. “What?”, he replies. There’s a pause. She says “Win.”

Cue the chimes, the Bill Conti theme music and a montage of Rocky, the underdog, getting in shape with gruelling training regimes. Cue the run up the famous Philadelphia steps.

Here’s a clip:

I’ve always constitutionally favoured the underdog, the plucky outsider who overcomes the odds to beat the competition, however overwhelming they might seem.

The spirit of the underdog – David against Goliath – feeds into all of our work for our clients, not because they are necessarily the underdog (many are market leaders) but because seeing your brand as the pretender to the throne rather than the enthroned is the best way to shake off complacency.

The underdog also gets better odds, so the upside that comes from success is even greater.

A great deal of our storytelling relies on defining the opposing forces in a market. It’s an important part of most compelling brand stories: for instance, fighting an injustice, taking on the excesses of a competitor, finding a better way to do something for your customers, challenging orthodoxy.

What’s your chimes moment? What are you trying to achieve as you reach the top of the Philadelphia steps?


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