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Value and tulip bulbs
December 11, 2007, 6:17 am
Filed under: Digital Strategy

In the book  Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Charles Mackay wrote about tulip mania. The term originally came from the period in the history of the Netherlands during which demand for tulip bulbs reached such a peak that enormous prices were charged for a single bulb. It took place in the first part of the 17th century, especially in 1636–37.

In 1623, a single bulb of a famous tulip variety could cost as much as a thousand Dutch florins (the average yearly income at the time was 150 florins).

By 1635, a sale of 40 bulbs for 100,000 florins was recorded. By way of comparison, a ton of butter cost around 100 florins and “eight fat swine” 240 florins.

In February 1637 tulip traders could no longer get inflated prices for their bulbs, and they began to sell. The bubble burst. 

I’m sure that you’ve seen or heard  of (or even experienced) many economic manias like this- llamas, emu eggs and about a hundred thousand websites.

So much a part of educating clients is helping them navigate an essentially manic environment: ‘build me and internet’, ‘get me a Facebook’, Second Life the creation of Linden Labs…or Lewis PR?

We can get terribly focused on the bulb- on the device that will deliver the results that we are after.  As strategic guardians of brands we need to remember the heart of what it is that we are trying to deliver- to plant a seed so that a flower will grow.

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