Know the rules so you can break them

In an episode of Mad Men, Don Draper has to battle for the Honda Motorcycle account in a challenge between agencies.

His agency is running out of money and with the meagre $3k budget, he’s got to get creative.

The challenge requires each contestant to deliver a full presentation of their idea for an Ad, but NOT a complete project.

Knowing the rules and that the competition heard about their agency being low on funds, Don decides to put together a risky stunt.

They pretend shooting a commercial just to make rival agencies think they are going to deliver a full Ad. The race to the best one starts and all competitors end up delivering a fully fleshed out video commercial.

Not Don.

He lets Honda know how dishonorable of them was to go against their own rules and accept a finished Ad. Then withdraws his agency from the competition and signs a $3k check out of his own pocket.

The next day he gets news he won the Honda account. No presentation nor Ad needed.

When you know the rules of the game breaking them can sometimes be the best way forward.

Knowing your opponents gives you the right angle for your approach. You can orient and enter their OODA loop.

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