How advertising works

Sage, 5:

Mommy, I love seeing when people are drinking the sodas in the red can. Because I know that they are really nice people who want to help polar bears.

Coke Can. It's all about the polar bears.


21 thoughts on “How advertising works”

  1. Huh. You know, they keep doing studies that show if you put super cute cartoon stickers on things like broccoli kids will want it. Why aren’t we using more of our knowledge of the power of advertising and marketing for good?

    1. Well we being “me” … we actually are. There’s a ton of social good from marketers now, more than ever.

      I think the thing is, all companies are trying to do good. Even Coke. Thus, polar bears.

      1. That’s good to know. It actually makes me feel better about most advertising in general when I think about how someone like yourself who is interested in making the world a better place is part of it.

        I guess when I say it would be nice see more of it, the emphasis is on the ‘seeing’ part. Those of us not in advertising aren’t aware of what many of those good things might be. I feel like most of my relationship with advertising is trying to teach my children how to recognize they are being manipulated by it. That the full force of that power is often being used to get them to buy poorly made or unhealthy products rather than something better. I’m not trying to insult your profession–I’m really truly not. Every field runs the gamut of people with good intentions to those who don’t care, my own included. I just wonder about the state of things when possibly more kids can identify a Coke than a carrot.

        1. Oh feel free to insult my profession. I can’t speak for everyone in an entire global industry nor can I defend every product.

          But think about recent efforts like:
          Pepsi Refresh Everything
          Target for Education Grants
          Tide Loads of Hope in NOLA
          Levi’s Go Forth – restoring towns in need
          TOMS buy one give one
          Crate + Barrel giving Donors Choose Gift Cards
          Ford offering cars to homeless people through Invisible People (thanks to Scott Monty)

          Plus every “like this and we’ll donate…” campaign.

          Whether or not you like those brands, social good in marketing is so common it’s like we almost don’t think of it any more. But as I wrote about the Old Navy Pride Tees, companies and agencies are just made of people. And a lot of them (or the ones I’ve been fortunate to work with) are really progressive, forward thinking, do-gooding people. Yeah, we have to sell shit. But if we can do that while living our values it’s easier to get up in the morning.

          And by the way, CP+P did try to brand carrots like junk food. It was very clever.

          1. Thank you for the list, and the link is awesome! The only campaign I was aware of was the Target one (because we practically live in Target with one two blocks from our house plus our school benefits from their efforts). I’m particularly intrigued by the Ford program (having been born in Detroit that feels personal). I think these things are farther off the radar of average people than companies realize, but I’m very glad to know they are happening.

  2. Discussing advertising at dinner with my three teen age sons. Their view was that it is the wall paper of their lives, always there, always has been, but no longer noticed. I was relieved.

      1. Did think of that the millisecond after I pushed submit. Really sorry. Just want to make sure that kids are thinking for themselves not blindly following messages served to them. When they were tiny I surprised how they wanted everything they saw on TV, so much better now that they just want everything they see on TV relating to sports…

  3. I love advertising. Sure there are bad aspects to it, like nearly anything else, but so much of it is creative and joyful. I always wish I’d gone into it for a career.

  4. I volunteered for an “at risk” kid years ago. I took her to a Britney Spears concert since Britney was her idol. There were Pepsi logos absolutely EVERYWHERE in the arena, including Pepsi logo lights that flew over the crowd and lit up different sections.

    Before the show, we stopped to get a drink at the concession stand. I asked the girl what she wanted to drink. “I want to get Pepsi because I want to support Britney,” she said. I assured that I was pretty sure Britney already had plenty of support.

  5. I miss that innocence. I live with savvy teens now, but when my son, the artist, was in first grade, he said something so cute I still use it:

    His artwork had beenselected to represent his school in a county-wide school art display at a local mall, where it was hard to find a parking spot. As I drove up and down each row looking for a place to park, he announced, “Everybody must be here for the art show!”

    Nowadays, when I receive a rejection for my work, I tell myself it’s because everybody’s here for the art show!

  6. i’m kinda surprised the shiny red can and polar bears appealed to your daughter at all since coke is so vocal about not advertising to kids.

    my main issue (usually) with advertising is if it’s directed towards kids. if it’s towards adults, i’m (usually) all for it.

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