Frederick the Great, potatoes and the art of rebranding

How do we change the way people think about your brand?

Back in the 18th century, Frederick II of Prussia (also known as Frederick the Great) was looking for ways to feed his nation and lower the price of bread. He proposed the potato as a suitable new addition to the nation’s diet.

But peasants resisted growing it. They said that potatoes looked dirty and had no taste.

So King Frederick decided to rebrand it as a royal vegetable, planted a royal field with potato plants and ordered his guards to protect them.

Now here’s the real kicker — the guards were instructed to pretend not to notice in case local peasants tried to steal from the King’s garden.

Before long, peasants started stealing these “royal potatoes” and growing them in secret. And boom, suddenly everyone was eating potatoes.

Frederick understood this: if something is worth guarding, it is worth stealing.

P.S. This piece originally appeared in my Nishi weekly newsletter where I share colorful thoughts on copywriting + loads of helpful resources and interesting stories. Subscribe to my newsletter here.

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