Forty-two years ago today, early in the morning of December 21, 1970, Elvis Presley showed up, unannounced, at the gates of the White House to deliver a letter he had written to President Richard Nixon.
Elvis wanted to meet with the President and he wanted the title and badge of Federal Agent for the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. Elvis got everything he asked for. By lunchtime. That day.
How did Elvis do it?
THE BRAND: By 1970, sixteen years into his show biz career, Elvis Presley had evolved into Elvis. The bejeweled, cape-wearing, “See See Rider” singing, Vegas-playing Elvis. Elvis was a brand that everybody recognized and many respected. When Elvis showed up at the door — even the door of the White House — the door was open.
THE ANGLE: Even if you’re well known, and even if you say “please,” you need a selling proposition, a unique brand attribute. Elvis had one: Elvis could relate to everyone. In his letter to President Nixon, Elvis wrote: The drug culture, the hippie elements …do not consider me as their enemy… I will help out by doing it my way through my communications with people of all ages.
THE ASK: Elvis didn’t beat around the bush. He asked specifically for what he wanted. When you don’t ask, you don’t get.
THE LIMITED TIME OFFER: When Elvis showed up at the White House gates four days before Christmas, the Nixon staff knew they had to move quickly. Elvis was a limited time offer. Better act now.
THE CLOSE: Elvis wasn’t going to leave the White House without a new badge. He knew better than to take “We’ll get back to you” for an answer. Elvis was persistent.
A brand built over time, a unique and well-timed offer and a clear call to action set the stage, and a well-prepared, confident salesman brought home the badge.
Elvis has left the White House.