The most remarkable marketing campaigns throughout history didn’t just increase sales or raise brand awareness. The brands that spearheaded them influenced how we think about not just their product or service but the entire industry. At their core, they were so memorable because they changed minds. They knew the power of emotions, beliefs and perceptions.
At 10twelve, we work with businesses everyday to craft compelling stories and marketing. Not every campaign is going to start an industry-wide revolution, and it doesn’t have to for it be considered successful. Sometimes, success might just mean that you significantly increase your revenue or active user count year over year. However, the brands that people remember for years to come tend to be the ones that shaped perceptions with the stories they shared in their marketing and advertising.
Why It Matters
Great marketing is grounded in beliefs. It’s what made Apple legendary in the Steve Job era. Jobs knew how to tell a story, but he also knew those stories needed to be about more than just the product.
Apple could’ve only focused on the technical advantages they had over Microsoft and other operating systems. Instead, they focused on the “why” and centered their messages around beliefs.
In a TED talk, renowned researcher Simon Sinek explains that Apple used the Golden Circle of marketing that starts with “why” at the core. Why does your company matter? Why are you different from every other business? This forces you to focus on beliefs and values in your marketing. For Apple, it was, “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently.”
People increasingly view the products and services they purchase as an expression of who they are and what they value. As a result, companies are trying to be lifestyle brands, businesses that embody the beliefs, attitudes, values and interests of the specific audiences or groups they are targeting.
For example, Apple embodies the values of innovation, sleek design and high performance. The online mattress company Casper taps into younger generations’ values of convenience and speed. Whole Foods channels the healthy living crowd by focusing on its organic and natural products.
Here are a few key case studies that demonstrate the power that marketing has to influence perceptions, and the advantages that it can have on your business.
Shaving has been around since the middle ages, but the “razor” or instrument used for shaving has evolved greatly. When today’s modern razors were first massively produced by Gillette in the beginning of the 20th century, they weren’t gender-specific. (Although their intended use was for men in the military during WWI.)
Around the time, culture and women’s fashion were changing to reveal more exposed skin. Razor companies saw it as an opportunity to market their product to women, and Gillette released the first women’s razor in 1915.
Technically, a men’s razor and a women’s razor are the same. They both remove hair the same, but brands decided that pairing shaving and smooth skin with ideals of femininity would be more profitable. Ads tapped into feelings of embarrassment and shame over female body hair and made hairless skin the new ideal of beauty.
Now, we’re not saying that it was admirable. It certainly would be viewed as sexist today. Many advertisements from the past would be considered offensive today, but at the time they were created, they were effective. They shaped the industry as well as consumer perceptions, and boosted sales.
Today, beer goes hand-in-hand with sports. It is served at every sporting event in the world, especially at baseball and American football games. In fact, according to a Harris Poll survey of regular alcohol drinkers, beer is the most associated drink when it comes to sports, with football (75%), baseball (70%), car racing (55%) as the top three.
The relationship between beer and sports has existed it for as long as anyone can remember. However, initially, beer companies didn’t fully realize the advertising potential of sports.
One of the landmark moments of beer advertising in sports was when Miller Lite began marketing their lite beer as “less filling”, rather than saying it was diet, which was considered too feminine. Sports sells beer and men watch sports. By that logic, beer companies needed to portray a cultural idea of masculinity. They captured their target audience, which in this case was primarily men. Now, decades of advertising have cemented beer as the masculine drink of choice.
Perfume and Cologne
These days, there are few industries or advertisements that are as closely associated with sexuality than that of perfume and cologne. How many perfume commercials do you see with beautiful men and women in love (or lust)?
If you want to attract a significant other, you need to smell good, but how did that idea get so ingrained in our thoughts? You guessed it...advertising.
At the core of every cologne or perfume commercial is sex appeal. In fact, the first advertisement to use sex to sell a product came from Woodbury Soap in 1911. The success of their campaign began an age where perfume and other scented hygiene products will forever be associated with sex.
Although, it is important to mention that scientific research has shown that pheromones, or scent signals, can elicit certain biological behaviors and sexual responses. However, that was only in the animal kingdom.
For humans, there is no scientific research that has proven or disproven the existence of pheromones. There is not even a quantifiable way to determine if a smell is good or bad to a person. Therefore, the idea that you can bottle up pheromones or “sexual attraction” into a perfume or cologne is void. Yet, perfume and cologne commercials are the biggest examples of “sex sells” and when it comes to scent, people often buy into it.
Don’t underestimate the power that emotions and beliefs have in your marketing, but don’t abuse them either. When used expertly, they can help you form stronger and more meaningful connections with your target audiences. They can even change how we view an entire industry, but be careful.
In some cases, if you try to play off of a target audience’s emotions and beliefs just to sell a product, it is blatantly obvious and distasteful. It will almost certainly backfire on you. (Think about Pepsi’s terrible commercial with Kendall Jenner.)
At the core of your marketing efforts should be your company’s cultural values and beliefs. Customers that align with those beliefs are the most valuable to have and often the most loyal. However, it is important to make sure that you actually believe in what you say you do. Consumers today are savvy and informed. They’ll know when you are falsely misrepresenting your brand to sell a product.
Still have questions about what makes a marketing campaign remarkable? Want to create marketing that has more emotional appeal and storytelling? Chat with 10twelve today about your next project.