Note: there is an update to this post at the bottom.

This morning I read an insightful article in The Wall Street Journal about Fender Musical Instruments entitled “The Down-to-Earth Dreams of Today’s Guitar Buyer.” I was utterly inspired by the insight that Andy Mooney, the CEO of Fender, posited in the interview. So much so that I immediately sat down and wrote a creative brief for the assignment and sent it to Mr. Mooney’s email, which I’m not even sure is his email, and offered to have Ideasicle take the problem on as a challenge. Hey, nothing is unthinkable, right?

But I need your help. So let me first break down the insight and strategy for you.

I don’t wanna be a rock star.

In the interview, Mooney suggests that the motivation for picking up the guitar has radically changed since we were all kids. Specifically:

A lot of people in the industry, myself included, used to think people picked up a guitar to be a rock ’n’ roll god. People pick up a guitar today to learn a life skill, to play solo in the comfort of their own bedroom. It’s to play at campfire settings with friends.

Yeah, that’s me on Christmas morning with my new guitar.

Yeah, that’s me on Christmas morning with my new guitar.

I don’t know about the campfire part, but I could personally relate to this insight as it’s exactly why I play guitar (or try to play, as it were).

There is so much one can get from a guitar that has nothing to do with notoriety or attention and everything to do with personal development and low-key happiness.

The day I could finally play “Blackbird” by the Beatles was perhaps in my top ten days of all time. You work on it, practice it, get it a little, practice some more and then…finally…someone actually recognizes what you’re playing.

But here’s the thing. From Fender’s point of view, there’s a serious problem between the moment someone buys a first guitar and one year later.

People give up.

90% of first-time guitar players quit within the first year. Reducing abandonment by only 10%, according to the WSJ interview, would double the size of the entire electric guitar industry. So, the problem to solve is simple: how do we get people who start playing the electric guitar to keep playing the electric guitar for more than one year?

I know this is a job for Ideasicle. But the problem is, I don’t know Andy Mooney.

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So I skipped a step and assumptively wrote up a creative brief outlining the problem and asking my future team to blue sky the assignment. I ask them to think about small behavioral changes we could encourage, reward systems, partnering brands who could augment the experience, stoking influencers who live with the players, product evolutions, enhancements to the Fender subscription-based online learning product it calls Fender Play, and anything else the team could think of.

The potential of a flurry of ideas awaits.

Please forward to Andy Mooney.

I sent the brief to Mr. Mooney, guessing at his email. But if you know him, or someone close to him at Fender, please email him a link to this post and cc me (willb@ideasicle.com) so I know you did it. If it works out, I will pay you a referral fee of $1,000.

All I want to do is help another beginner stick with it and see how rewarding it can be despite the setbacks, the practicing, the frustration.

As Paul McCartney put it, “Take these broken wings and learn to fly.”

Thanks in advance.

UPDATE: on 5/30/19 the CMO of Fender contacted me to set up a call.


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WILL BURNS IS FOUNDER & CEO OF IDEASICLE, AND A FORBES CONTRIBUTOR.

Email Will or sign up for our monthly Ideasicle Newsletter, and whatever you do don’t go without a flurry of ideas when solving your next marketing problem.

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