We are constantly surrounded by marketing and advertising, from social media happenings to email marketing campaigns. Most will have little effect on us, others will make us buy into a product or service; some will penetrate into popular culture for a while. But there are a small few that will have such impact on society that it will change the way we think.
The four campaigns below have had a lasting impact on our society and shaped the way we view the world.
Diamonds are the Gift of Love
Today we associate diamonds as being the gift of love. It has become traditional that a woman receives a diamond engagement ring. What few realise is that diamonds only became the engagement ring stone of choice through a clever marketing campaign.
Back in the early part of the twentieth century De Beers owned 90% of the world’s diamond production. In the 1930s the company became alarmed to find that diamond sales were falling so hired advertising company N.W. Ayer & Son to counteract this.
Prior to this diamonds were loosely associated with romance, however were not popular engagement gifts especially in Europe. N.W. Ayer & Son decided to change this and encouraged the idea of diamonds being the gift of pure love and that men should present a diamond engagement ring when proposing.
The company promoted this through the most popular medium of the day – films. Often leading male characters would present their love interest with diamonds, while in real life actresses would publicise the diamond gifts they had received. This was reinforced through traditional advertising and the idea of diamonds being a symbol of love took hold and has remained ever since.
Santa Wears a Red Suit
The build-up to Christmas only really gets underway when the Coca Cola’s Holidays Are Coming advert appears on TV. But before the Cola trucks began announcing the start of Christmas, the fizzy drink brand shaped the way we depict Santa.
Before Coca Cola uniformed the image of Santa he was depicted in a variety of ways from an elf to a woodsman. In the early 1930s Coca Cola started producing advertising posters showing Santa as a jolly old man in a red suit and white beard.
Over the years this has become the standard image of Santa and it is now how millions of children across the world picture him to look.
Smoking is Cool, Rebellious and Glamorous
Even though everyone knows that smoking causes cancer and is extremely unhealthy, many people (especially teenagers) take up the habit. The reality is that smoking still projects an image of coolness, rebellion and glamour to a lot of people.
In the depression hit 1930s, cinemas became a popular form of entertainment and tobacco companies used the popularity of films to promote their cigarette brands. Many films of this period and the decades that followed showed glamorous and attractive characters smoking. Often these film stars would also be photographed smoking in real life, reinforcing the idea of the habit as a glamorous activity.
When teenage culture took off in the 1950s, it was the cool rebellious characters that were shown smoking, and in the ultimate teen rebellion film ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ actor James Dean, who personified cool, is seen smoking throughout.
Although most films and television programmes no longer depict characters lighting up, the image of smoking as cool, rebellious and glamorous has stuck.
Getting Your Five-a-Day is Healthy
The idea that you should be eating five pieces of fruit or vegetables a day to be healthy was a marketing campaign backed by the government.
Although few medical professionals will discourage people from eating more fruit and vegetables, different countries have different recommendations; the US recommends nine a day while Italians are told to just eat more fruit and veg.
There is no scientific evidence that states five a day as a beneficial number of fruit or vegetables to eat a day. It is thought the number was chosen for its marketing abilities – it’s easy to remember and seems achievable.
Like so many popular marketing campaigns it originated in the US, when in 1991 California launched a ‘National five-a-day for better health’ campaign, which was a public-private partnership between the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Produce for Better Health Foundation. Since then the idea of government-backed health campaigns to encourage people to eat more fruit and veg has spread across the world. Which is why today if we are trying to be healthy we strive to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables.