Back in 1982, advertising campaigns for business computers were mumbo jumbo that only “techie geeks” could understand. A struggling Data General asked me to create a campaign for its new, breakthrough, compact AViiON computer system. It had the power of a mainframe and could process tens of millions of bits of information, while needing far less space than conventional computers. It was powerful enough to compete aggressively against IBM and the rest of the big boys. The first sight of AViiON’s flat shape and surprisingly small size looked disarmingly un-computer like. Not only did it look like a pizza box, I also soon found out it could fit into a pizza box!

So I grabbed this common, universal image and cooked up a pizza-box campaign. I designed a box that became the selling focus for Data General. (The company’s circular logo was actually shaped like a pizza pie!) The headline on the full page ads in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal said: Who just fit Mainframe Power in a Pizza Box? Data General presents the AViiON systems. (We deliver.) The Times’ ad column headlined the story on my campaign as a “Tasty Approach to High Tech.” Carried away by my imagery, The Times went on to describe my pizza box with a flash of takeout passion: “Inside, it turns out, is a $150,000 computer, without anchovies.” The day the first ad ran, Data General’s stock leaped from two dollars to twenty-two dollars! And sales increased 600 percent, a testimony to what I’ve always called “the power of the (seemingly) outrageous idea!” (These days, they call getting an unusual idea “thinking outside the box.” But for Data General, the big idea was a box!)