Think advertising doesn’t work; think again

Most of us think at one point of another that Advertising doesn’t work on me. And to a degree that is true. You won’t see an ad on TV for the latest vacuum cleaner and immediately go and buy one or switch from your favourite brand of phone just because you see a great ad by the competition.  Although, this Samsung commercial poking fun at Apple certainly makes you stop and think!

But look at it another way. When you need a new washing machine, will you consider AO? Chances are you will. The primary purpose of advertising is to inform, persuade and remind and AO have done enough advertising over the years, complete with an ever so slightly annoying jingle, that they will no doubt pop into your head. That’s the power of advertising (and we bet you’re humming the tune now!)

But shockingly the power of advertising doesn’t just end with us buying a new washing machine from AO; the power is such that things we think are the norm or even tradition actually have their roots in some great marketing campaigns.

If you don’t believe advertising works, you will after reading this.

The most important meal of the day isn’t breakfast!

For years our parents told us breakfast is the most important meal of the day; that even if you miss lunch, that’s fine as long as you have a good breakfast inside you.

And to be fair, some medical studies have found breakfast does help boost energy levels and alertness while providing essential nutrients required for good health.

But here’s the thing. The phrase ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ doesn’t come from a medical journal or a nutritionist, it comes from James Caleb Jackson and John Harvey Kellogg. And yes, that’s Kellogg as in Kellogg’s.

The phrase was nothing more than a marketing phrase coined in the 19th century to sell Kellogg’s newly invented breakfast cereal!

Who doesn’t want a diamond engagement ring?

Let’s face it, as soon as you talk about engagement rings, you think of diamonds. And why wouldn’t you? Timeless, elegant and undeniably sophisticated, is it really an engagement ring if it doesn’t have at least one diamond?

But given there are so many different types of precious stones, where does this obsession with diamonds come from? Clever advertising of course.

Before World War II only 10% of engagement rings had diamonds in them as unsurprisingly, The Great Depression meant nobody was really interested in buying expensive goods. But this gave De Beers a problem. Their diamond cartel controlled 60% of rough diamond output, so with a lot of diamonds to shift, they embarked on a comprehensive marketing campaign.

Starting with simply running stories on celebrities who wore diamonds and those who proposed with diamonds, fashion designers quickly became convinced that diamonds were the next big trend.

Then in 1948, De Beers hit us with one of the best marketing slogans ever ‘A diamond is forever’.  Inextricably linking diamonds with a symbol of forever love, a diamond engagement ring became the only option for newly engaged couples.

And it didn’t stop there. They followed it up with another campaign which suggested an engagement ring should cost one months’ salary, which was then increased to two months’ salary in the 1980s. Which makes you wonder – how many people realise that the figure was created by a company with a vested interest in selling diamonds? Probably not many, which is why it’s such a great marketing campaign.

Orange juice isn’t healthy for you

How many of us will pick an orange juice over a Coke because we think it’s the healthier option? To be fair, orange juice is a good source of a variety of nutrients such as vitamin C, folate and potassium, but it’s also packed with sugar. In fact,  according to the FDA a cup of orange juice contains 24g of sugar, roughly the same as a Coke. So why is it we all think it’s a healthy option? Advertising of course.

During the industrial revolution in the late 19th and early 20th century, many people suffered from malnutrition. Oranges were already associated with health benefits having been found to reduce scurvy in sailors and as fruit growers were picking more oranges than people wanted to buy, it was a no-brainer to start a comprehensive marketing campaign.

The ‘Drink an Orange’ ads by the Southern California Fruit Grower’s Association, effectively

convinced consumers that oranges had a whole host of health benefits and were the perfect start to the day. And by showing people how to squeeze the juice out of the oranges and selling the juicers for them to do it, it enabled them to sell off more oranges before they went bad and helped create a market for a new drink – orange juice.

And to this day orange juice’s health credentials have stuck with sales soring during the pandemic.

And if you’re thinking you haven’t heard of the Southern California Fruit Grower’s Association before, well they rebranded themselves as Sunkist.

Did Coca-Cola create the image of Father Christmas?

If you think of Father Christmas, then it’s inevitably of a portly, jolly older gentleman with a big white beard wearing a red suit. And while it’s true Coca-Cola did help shape the image of Father Christmas (or Santa as they like to call him), they didn’t create the image we know and love today.

The modern image of Father Christmas was popularised during Victorian times in poems and short stories and in particular by an illustration by cartoonist Thomas Nast in an 1863 issue of Harper’s Weekly.

The 19th century saw a number of versions of Father Christmas in a red suit, including an 1868 advert for Sugar Plums and this now famous 1881 illustration by Thomas Nast.  Entitled ‘Merry Old Santa’, you can clearly see the influence it had on the modern-day image.

In the 1930s Coca-Cola realised Coke was primarily associated with warm, summer days, so to encourage people to drink it during the winter months as well they created the character of Santa Claus for their festive campaigns.

The enduring nature of this urban legend – that they in fact created the modern-day image of Father Christmas – is testament to how easily we are all influenced by advertising, like it or not!