As I sit here and think of what to type, I look around at my surroundings. I glance at the white Toyota Corolla parked next to our office that says, “Hey! I get a lot of gas mileage but I’m still cute and professional”. I glance at my iPhone and Macbook I purchased because of the association of Apple products with creatives. I take a snap chat of my Starbucks pumpkin spice latte with my computer and other work spread out in the background, “Happy Hump Day!”. I laugh to myself because even though some people don’t believe it, marketing is everywhere.
We live in a time where it isn’t always the best product that wins, it’s the one that people remember. One of my favorite examples is with Edward Bernays and his impact on the cigarette market or more specifically, his impact on Lucky Strike Cigarettes. Bernays believed that people are motivated by unconscious desires. He was one of the first documented marketers to combine marketing with crowd psychology.
In the 1920s the American Tobacco Company realized they were missing out on a huge share of the market, women. At that time, it was still taboo for women to smoke so they had to think outside the box. Bernays talked to a psychoanalyst Abraham Brill who explained to him that for most women smoking was taboo but for feminists, cigarettes were “torches of freedom that represented their freedom from male oppression.”
Bernays contacted a female friend and had her get a group of women to “light their torches of Freedom” in front of reporters and photographers at the New York City Easter Day Parade. They did and on April 1, 1929, the headline read, “Group of Girls Puff at Cigarettes as a Gesture of ‘Freedom’”.
Later into the 1920s and early 30’s he made the emerald green on the Lucky Brand Cigarettes the color of the year. Interior design, fashion, balls, department stores, everyone was embracing that emerald green which meant Lucky Strike kept that grasp on the female clientele for quite some time.
Whether you agree with his marketing schemes or not, Bernays was a great example of the way we market today. We are bombarded with advertisements, infomercials, and celebrity endorsements every second of every day. When we go to the grocery store, there are hundreds of brands offering the exact same products. How do we choose? Do we choose based on price? Based on looks? Or based on a feeling? Although some people (myself included) shop based on price, a large group of people shop based on their feelings surrounding the product.
Lucky Strike didn’t take control of the female market share because they sold a cigarette. They took control of the female market share because they sold a statement that went along with holding a Lucky Strike Cigarette. By smoking one, you were not only smoking but you were making a statement.
The cars we drive, the clothes we wear, what we post on social media, it all boils down to how we see ourselves and how we want people to view us. Marketing isn’t just about marketing the features something must offer. Marketing is about understanding your customers, how they think, what they want, how they act, and then showcasing your product to show how it will benefit their lives. The best marketing is marketing you don’t even notice and that is an art. We hope you find as much appreciation for it as we do.