If you live anywhere besides three of the largest cities in the country (think San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C….. oh, and one other entrepreneurial mecca, Kansas City), you missed the first ever public service announcement (PSA) by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, one of the driving forces behind entrepreneurship in the U. S., to inspire the next great entrepreneurs to take action. It aired during the Super Bowl.
The video is fun to watch and has a great message. And I think it’s really cool that they (1) want to get the message out and used the Super Bowl to hit the biggest viewership possible, and (2) have the financial resources to air the spot in the most expensive media vehicle there is.
But what puzzled me was: why did they choose those particular four cities if they truly wanted to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs? For what it’s worth, here is my thought process:
- San Francisco is full of entrepreneurs, and the entrepreneurial culture is so pervasive there that people who could be inspired are already doing it!
- Washington, D.C., is obvious, but for a different reason — they want to communicate the entrepreneurship message to the politicos. That’s fine (and needed), but the spot was directed to entrepreneurs. Is it reasonable to expect that in a city besieged by lobbyists, politicians and special interest groups, with a culture of bureacracy and red tape, that there is a bevy of entrepreneurs just waiting in the wings to be inspired?
- I get New York — it’s THE biggest U. S. population center and close to Boston, probably the strongest entrepreneurial culture on the East Coast.
- Kansas City — I haven’t been to KC in a long time, but I would guess that the Kauffman Foundation is a big dog there and is doing what they can to turn it into an entrepreneurial hotspot. They couldn’t air their spot elsewhere and not do it on home turf.
So maybe two of their targeted cities have potential to generate new entrepreneurs — one big and one not-so-big…….. But if you have studied marketing, you know that a one-shot advertisement (and that’s what this PSA really was) rarely provides the results you want. For advertising to be successful, you have to (1) repeat the message over and over again so that (2) you reach your audience when they have a point of need — THAT is when they will listen to your message.
Don’t get me wrong — I love the Kauffman Foundation. They do great work and are a terrific champion for the entrepreneurial cause. And this was truly a creative vehicle used in a creative medium. But what the U. S. needs is a sustained message across ALL of our cities — starting in our grade schools, all the way up through colleges and universities. That’s a daunting task that needs some creative thinking with creative solutions.