New regulations come into force in the US next week, banning the use of the word ‘light’ on cigarette packaging. The move is clearly based on the insight that ‘light’ connotes a healthier product to consumers – not something that goes down well with the regulators. Marlboro’s cunning response (see below) has been to communicate heavily that consumers need only ask for the ‘Marlboros in the gold pack’ instead, but this manoeuvre is also now under investigation by the FDA.
It’s interesting news in and of itself but is made even more interesting by the fact that regulation in tobacco has in the past acted as a forewarning of impending regulation in the alcohol industry, eg. advertising bans, sports sponsorship bans etc. So it sparks the thought: what may happen to the marketing of beer in coming years, where in the US Bud Light and Coors Light outsell their standard counterparts? If the same thinking is applied to alcohol, will we see consumers in the future having to ask for “a Bud in the blue bottle?”. Or will Budweiser respond to this as an early warning and try to adopt a new subtler proxy for communicating the lightness of Bud Light?
Australia’s regulations have banned the use of words like ‘mild’ and ‘light’ on tobacco packaging for years now. So just as the tobacco industry may indicate the likely regulatory future for alcohol, Australian regulation has tended to act as the forerunner to regulation in the US and the wider world. So, it’s interesting to note that the Australians are currently considering banning all on-pack branding for cigarettes, allowing only a small reference to the brand name at the bottom corner of the pack in a homogeneous typeface. As they protest the proposed move, the cigarette manufacturers are desperately trying to prepare for them, even redesigning the cigarettes themselves to act as one of the few communications media they have left. So, it’s interesting to think: will we see differently coloured beers in the future as beer cans and bottles potentially come under attack and become bland and unidentifiable?
Marketing cigarettes and alcohol used to be seen as glamorous. For marketers, at least, they’re just becoming bloody hard work!
Posted by Alan Morrison on June 17, 2010 1 comment
M&Ms are launching a new variant in the US: M&M Pretzels. It may have been a good piece of insight work which helped them identify the opportunity for the launch, but it took something else to communicate it this well. To me, the new ad ticks the most important boxes for communicating innovations:
Explains what it is (easy): Tick
Generates interest/curiosity for trial (moderately difficult): Tick (for me anyway)
Stays on-brand and establishes it as a natural extension of the brand (difficult): Again tick
Do all three at the same time (the most difficult of all): Absolutely. For me, that’s what makes this ad fantastic. See for yourself:
…but that doesn’t mean we can’t occasionally sit back and appreciate great work done by someone else, somewhere else in some other industry. In this case TrueCoffee in Thailand designing a great hot dog pack. Well done:
How do you target mainstream men in markets where they are not traditionally the consumers? Typical marketers’ responses play to the stereotype: build a proposition around macho fitness (eg. Pepsi Max in low sugar drinks), turn it into a tool/gadget (eg. Wilkinson Sword secateurs in gardening), make it a challenge (eg. Lindt chilli variant in chocolate) and of course make it about sex (eg. Lynx in deodorants).
So, with great respect for tried and tested marketing tricks, I’m pleased to see Philips have launched an iron: the GC4490, presumably named to cue associations with car parts and obscure trade codes for masonry drill-bits. It’s “tool marketing” at its best with a design, as AdFreak says, that would be fitting for Darth Vader’s jet ski and it comes with a brilliantly engineered proposition around “more power, more steam, more performance” – an iron as power tool.
It’s a stereotype. But just as real insight often comes from humour (“there’s many a true word spoken in jest”), mass-appeal marketing’s not a bad place to look for frank realities about mainstream society.
The headline conclusion is that men lie more than women (3 vs. 2 times a day, respectively). This, you might think, has implications for market research. But does the potential – if slightly controversial – irony of this not strike anyone else as staggeringly obvious? The poll was based on reported behaviour, exactly the same phenomenon that creates an opportunity for lying in everyday life. So when it comes to the conclusions of this poll, it may simply be that men are more honest about the fact they are lying.