Raw sewage, stale vomit and skunk spray.
That’s just a few of the ways people describe the smell of the durian… a large, yellowish-green, thorny husk covered fruit that’s popular in southeast Asia. Its imposing look and strong odor have earned it the title “King of the Fruits”.
Yet despite its horrific smell (which is so overpowering it’s BANNED from many hotels, airlines and even Singapore’s rapid transit system!), there are legions of devoted durian lovers who can’t get enough. Cuz evidently, if you can get past the smell, it tastes amazing.
British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace described it like this…
“A rich custard highly flavoured with almonds gives the best general idea of it, but there are occasional wafts of flavour that call to mind cream-cheese, onion-sauce, sherry-wine, and other incongruous dishes. Then there is a rich glutinous smoothness in the pulp which nothing else possesses, but which adds to its delicacy. It is neither acid nor sweet nor juicy; yet it wants neither of these qualities, for it is in itself perfect. It produces no nausea or other bad effect, and the more you eat of it the less you feel inclined to stop.”
Durian is one of those things you either love or hate. There’s no in between.
Just read some of these impassioned descriptions…
Novelist Anthony Burgess: “It’s like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavoratory”. (Blancmange is a type of sweet dessert.)
Chef and TV personality Anthony Bourdain: “Its taste can only be described as… indescribable, something you will either love or despise… Your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother.”
Travel and food writer Richard Sterling: “Its odor is best described as pig-sh!t, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock. It can be smelled from yards away.”
As you can tell, love it or hate it, one thing’s for sure… the durian evokes STRONG emotions in everyone who comes across one.
Which brings us to the curious case of Songpol Somsri, a Thai government scientist.
Somsri had a crazy idea… what if you could make a durian that keeps the amazing taste so many love yet eliminates the odor so many despise?
He worked on this idea for 20 years and finally succeeded. In 2007 he bred a variety of durian with a smell no more offensive than a banana.
A huge success, right?
Well, actually it was kind of a bust. In fact, Somsri’s durian caused an international UPROAR!!
Here was the problem…
The people who avoided durians still didn’t want anything to do with it – smell or no smell.
And the raving durian fans thought it was sacrilege to eliminate the smell that makes a durian a, well, durian.
Horrified durian lovers described the odorless variety as “the beginning of the end” and that “making a non-smelly durian is like a thornless rose… it’s really cutting out the soul.”
Songpol’s smell-less durian reminds me of most small business’ ads and websites… they’ve got no soul.
There’s absolutely nothing special or unique about them to make prospects take notice. It’s all the same old, boring meaningless drivel.
Songpol may have had greater success had he bred a durian that stunk even more than the original! And your ads and website may benefit from creating more of a stink too.
- Take a controversial stand.
- Have a unique voice.
- Get emotional in your copy.
Sure, you may turn some people off but I’ll betcha the ones you do weren’t your ideal customers anyway.
Creating more of a stink in your marketing doesn’t attract customers – it attracts FANS. People who’ll be more loyal, spend more money with you and be more fun to work with.
So next time you sit down to write copy for your business – aim to create a big stink. Doing so may very well bear you more of the sweet fruits of success!