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You cannot sell a man who isn’t listening

“You cannot sell a man who isn’t listening.”

Have you seen BIMCO’s video “Ships make the world go”?

If you haven’t, can I recommend you watch it here?

It is really good. Much better than the 30,688 views it has attracted so far on YouTube. So much so, I think it should be running in prime-time advertising slots on televisions around the world, sponsored by major shipping companies in their home countries.

Maersk in Denmark. CSAV in Chile. Oldendorff Carriers in Germany. CMA CGM in France. SCI in India. MSC in Italy. Hyundai in South Korea. Mitsui OSK in Japan. COSCO in China.

Imagine millions of ordinary people seeing it. Hearing that first-spoken sentence, “At a time when the world stopped. Ships kept moving.”

Imagine the impact it could have.

Snort in derision if you wish, but let the idea percolate for a minute or two. It’s got more substance than you might think.

Great advertising is immensely powerful. People respond to it.

You’ve shared a Coke with someone, haven’t you? Compared the Meerkat (market), perhaps? Didn’t Frosties taste Grrrreat!, when you were a kid?

It is why in other industries, companies that make and do things spend billions of dollars on advertising.

They want – they need – to get their products and services noticed by consumers.

And that’s what we want – what we need – for shipping, isn’t it?

To be noticed. To be talked about and remembered.

Shipping doesn’t have a brand problem. It doesn’t need moonshots, name evolutions, humaning, repurposing or any other such vacuous flim-flam that has no meaning.

What shipping needs is to tell its story.

And it needs to tell its story directly to the people whose attention it craves – the public.

“A global community of knowledge and passion. From salt and sugar to the latest fashion. Our ships keep moving, products we love using. Ships make the world go. They help trade flow and let business grow. ”

These are words that people understand and can connect with.

As the legendary American advertising creative director, Bill Bernbach, once said, “Simple, timeless, human truths.”

If we want shipping to feature in the mind of the public, then the public has to feature in the mind of shipping. We have to communicate with the public through mediums that the public understands and responds to: television, radio, billboard, newspapers, magazines and digital platforms.

For it to demand attention, shipping has to find a way to cut through the noise and craziness of peoples everyday life, just like other products and services do.

Apologies to its producers in advance, but if you edited the BIMCO video slightly. Had it voiced-over by someone as sonorously recognizable as James Earl Jones or Russel Crowe. And then added a shipping company logo at its conclusion accompanied by the strap-line, “The journey never ends.”, I think it could be tremendous. It could give people a reason to listen. 

My suggestion to any of the big shipping companies is, “just do it!”

For as Bill Bernbach also said, “You cannot sell a man who isn’t listening.”

James Wilkes, Managing Director, Gray Page

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