Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Elephant Memory Systems

Elephant Memory Systems was a very popular floppy disk brand from Leading Edge back in the 80's. Elephant eschewed corporate computing's dry and serious pretentions and flaunted a colorful and endearing elephant theme. The strategy worked wonders and Elephant became the top selling brand of disks.

I was going through some old junk the other day and I found a small promotional book from Elephant that contains some cool promotional artwork and some nostalgic text on the power of 5 and 1/4 inch floppy disks. I figured others may enjoy it as much as I have so I've scanned in some pages to share. You can find the cover art, introduction and the first chapter here.

If you're interested in the story of how Leading Edge was pitched the idea for using elephants to market floppy disks, author Ray Welch has made available a chapter from his book Copywriter that describes the encounter.

After that, on the notion that there’s more profit in selling
the blades than the razors, he decided to sell his own line of floppy disks.
He asked me to create a name for the brand. I came up with Elephant.
Elephant. “Never forgets.”

Rollin Binzer designed a West Coast logo of a mythic,
metallic high-tech pachyderm staring at you, a gleam in his third eye,
knowing more than he let on. In bright orange- and yellow-and-black
packages that contrasted stridently with IBM’s safe, sedate silver-and-blue.
Similarly garish ads jumped off the pages of the trade books.

Elephant was conceived as a price-point item, a discount
disk. Instead, because of the outrageous-looking ads and packaging--not to
mention the strange name--it became a premium product, the highest-margin
floppy on the market and the best-selling diskette in history.

When I presented the Elephant concept to Leading Edge,
we went around the conference table taking votes. Besides Michael, there
were five other Leading Edge executives present: brand managers, product
managers, VP/Sales, VP/Marketing…

With only one exception, they hated what they saw.
“Elephants are big and bulky. I don’t think that’s what we
want to convey.”

“Magnetic media integrity is serious stuff to the end-user.
It doesn’t look serious enough.”

“I think of ‘white’ elephants. Obsolete.”

One guy actually said, “Elephants are dinosaurs.”

And so on around the table. Until the buck got passed
around to Michael, who said, “I love it” and went on to make millions
with the brand. Democracy in action is a wonderful thing to behold.

If you're interested in seeing some of Elephant's original packaging you can find scans here.

Post a Comment
The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism