As part of celebrating 125 years of being around, the Wall Street Journal recently highlighted a number of stories it published over the years.
The one that stood out to me, on the business front, was this 1956 piece called “Teenage Customers: Merchants Seek Teens’ Dollars, Influence Now, Brand Loyalty Later” – that highlights the relatively advanced state of marketing, even back then.
I can’t copy paste an excerpt (no OCR), so two image excerpts will have to do:
If you subscribe to The WSJ, the compilation of stories is worth taking a look at…
The Economist writes (stuff in bold = my emphasis, below),
Among the first to spot the potential of this market was Dr Dre, an American rapper-cum-tycoon. In 2008 he and Jimmy Iovine, a record producer, launched their Beats range of headphones, to great success. They have all but created a new product category: premium-priced ($100-plus) cans whose sound quality is good enough, but which mainly sell on their brand image.
Beats Electronics and its founders have proved adept at using celebrity endorsements and product placement to plug their headphones. In America the company now has almost half the market for premium-priced cans, compared with 21% for Bose, a longer-established maker. Beats headphones are bassy: that’s what hip-hop fans want, but might not suit opera lovers. Overall, though, they are a lot better than the earbuds that come free with most portable devices.
Advertisements are powerful things. Done right, they can get the point across, weaken the competition, build brand equity (over time) and grow a company (things we all know, yes).
But every once in a while, certain Ads work stunningly well and thereby achieve iconic status.
A longish (~ 3 minutes ) piece in Slate by Seth Stevenson talks about the Ad that Avis took out in 1962 to successfully take on Hertz. Actually it just doesn’t talk about it – it actually posits that this was the most brilliant Ad slogan of the 20th century.
So how did it come into being?
Acknowledging any sort of brand weakness used to be anathema to Madison Avenue. Why encourage consumers to wonder why you’re stuck in second place? Better to project unflappable confidence. At the risk of ascribing too much to the dynamics of 1960s gender roles: Perhaps it’s no coincidence that a woman devised the Avis slogan. DDB copywriter Paula Green—a real-life Peggy Olson—came up with the “When you’re only No. 2” construction. It was revolutionary because, as Green said in later interviews, “It went against the notion that you had to brag.” (Green has also acknowledged, in what sounds like a nod to the workplace obstacles she faced, “ ‘We Try Harder’ is somewhat the story of my life.”)
Famed ad man David Ogilvy praised Green’s Avis ads as a feat of “diabolical positioning,” and DDB became known for these judo-style campaigns, in which a foe’s putative strengths are turned against him. When American cars were growing massive and show-offy and comically tail-finned, DDB pitched the Volkswagen Beetle with a now legendary 1961 print ad. “Think Small,” read the copy, with a teensy image of the car floating against an expanse of white space. “It’s ugly but it gets you there,” another VW ad confessed. DDB partner Bill Bernbach had sized up the cultural moment: Americans were weary of earnest, bigger-is-better, 1950s-style consumerism. The audience was receptive to a humble message that tweaked authority.
PS: Hungry for more or don’t want to click on that link? Here’s some more context on the Ad from Avis’ website (the Avis in Cyprus website; why Cyprus? Google):
In an attempt to convince potential customers that Avis simply tried harder than everybody else, the entire ad campaign was focused on frank and truthful statements about Avis’ business philosophy. To communicate this to the field, the entire management team at Avis traveled to every branch location across the country, spoke with every single employee and explained that the success of the campaign and of their business hinged upon providing superior customer service every chance they got.
Each Avis employee also received a copy of new Avis ads in his or her pay envelope before each campaign would run.
In just one year, the campaign literally changed the fortunes of the Company. Prior to the campaign, Avis had just $34 million in revenue and losses of $3.2 million. One year later, revenues had jumped to $38 million and for the first time in thirteen years, Avis turned a profit of $1.2 million.
The biggest short-term success of the campaign was found in Avis’ market share, which grew from 11 percent in 1962 to an amazing 35 percent in 1966.
Due to the success of the campaign, Avis’ advertising budget increased from $1.7 million in 1963 to $6.2 million four years later.
Likes, Favorites and Up/Down votes are all different way of registering one’s approval, or disapproval, of what we read, see and encounter online.
This morning, after reading a story on Buzzfeed, I encountered a new way in which readers and viewers can “react” to online content – one that lets you shoot a short “Vine”-like “Selfie”. And, as you can see in the picture above, it offers brands and companies an opportunity to make yet another (more sticky?) impression.
But will it catch on?
Maybe, but I am just not too sure…because, while clicking on a button is one thing, putting up your moving mug shot, in all its unblemished glory for the world to judge, is completely different (and just a bit intimidating).
Bottled water is one of those things that you want and need when you travel. At all other times, tap water is almost always just as good, at least in the developed world.
Given that, how do you introduce yet another brand and differentiate yourself to the point that consumers are willing to pay more, on a per gallon basis, for your “still” water, than they would, for gas?
You endow it with “Electrolytenment”, despite this:
As for promoting electrolytes, David G. Schardt, a senior nutritionist at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, noted that Resource stopped short of explicitly claiming they benefit health.
“They’re trying to stay away from F.D.A. interference but it also allows them to leave it up to the consumer to imagine the benefits that might come from electrolytes,” Mr. Schardt said.
With the exception of distilled water, all water contains some naturally occurring electrolytes like sodium and potassium, he said, adding that the added electrolytes in sports drinks are necessary only for extreme exertion.
“Replacing your electrolytes is only an issue for endurance athletes sweating for hours, not a jogger going out for a half-hour,” Mr. Schardt said.
TV Advertising is a business that is very well suited for crowd-sourcing.
That’s because traditional Ads take time and money to shoot. And then when that is done and you start putting it up on TV, you don’t know how the crowds will react.
So by tapping into the masses directly, companies and brands gain speed, save money by shifting the costs to fans and maximize the chances that what the crowd makes, the crowd loves.
Brian Hall, writing in Read Write (!) notes that the benefits spill over into branding as well
Big brands use the crowd not just for ideas, talent and inspiration, but to help generate brand awareness – even at the ad concept stage.
Pizza Hut, for example, encouraged football fans to submit videos incorporating the idea of quarterbacks shouting “hut” to hike the ball. Along with many great entries received, the campaign itself was a clever means of increasing brand awareness long before any finished advertisement even made it onto the television screen.
While Pizza Hut selected the finalists in its crowdsourced challenge, a popular vote was used to decide which ad made it to the Super Bowl.
IMO, what’s going to happen (if it doesn’t already happen) is that these (mass produced?) ads will probably first find a home on the Web…and then based on “viral”-ness and views, migrate to TV.
That way, big brands can use the crowds once again – this time, to minimize risk.