And the lessons you can learn from them.
The best marketing campaigns, in my opinion, are simple mantras that have found their way into our everyday lives. They are the campaigns that continue in your minds even after the companies have stopped the ads. They are from Coca-Cola, Kellogg’s, insurance companies, McDonald’s, and De Beers.
There are several marketing campaigns that have shaken the world. But not all of them have a ripple effect that outlived the ads. Those with that ripple effect present a lesson to entrepreneurs and marketers.
The biggest lesson for me from these top campaigns is the way they still affect the choices of buyers long after the ad stops running. This is something most sellers have a challenge with.
Great marketing campaigns don’t think of how to sell. Instead, they think of what would make people buy.
Here are my top seven.
1. Share a Coke with ____
Legendary copywriter Gary Halbert once said that the best way to get someone’s attention is to mention their name. Imagine on your way to work early in the morning, you saw a headline that says “Wealthy man dies and leaves his fortune to [insert your full name].”
Even if you’re a multimillionaire already, this headline will still stop you in your tracks. It’s a sure way to get a person’s attention. This is what Coca-Cola did.
You should be able to remember. Everybody was busy looking for their first name on a bottle of Coke. With social media in full swing, it fast grew into a trend.
I didn’t look for my name then, but someone did that for me. It wasn’t that hard to find “Share a Coke with David.” I had other friends with rare first names who couldn’t find their names. And they were not happy about it.
This marketing move was a home run from the Coca-Cola company. The campaign was later stopped, but the emotional connection it triggered in customers remains.
I hear some people kept the bottles as a memorial.
2. Breakfast Is the Most Important Meal of the Day
If I asked you what the most important meal of the day is, I am pretty sure your default answer will be breakfast. If I asked you why or how you know that for sure, you’ll probably have no convincing facts to back it up. But you just know the answer is breakfast.
What if I told you that it was a marketing ploy? This is not to say that breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. The real question is how it is that the thought of it being anything aside from breakfast doesn’t sound true.
Actually, the statement was coined by James Caleb Jackson and John Harvey Kellogg to sell their new breakfast cereal in the 19th century.
In a real sense, all meals are important. But the idea that one is the most important is a marketing campaign. Kellogg’s did it. And you know Kellogg’s sells all kinds of cereals that are ideal for breakfast.
Instead of marketing their cereals aggressively, they just make you believe breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That may be true if you ask nutritionists (I haven’t asked and Google search will only make you more confused). But it’s to make you eat their cereals every morning.
Yes, you can eat anything you want in the morning. But what are the chances of you eating cereal in the afternoon or evening? People do, but it’s not common. Cereals are branded with breakfast. So when we think of breakfast, we think about cereals.
I don’t eat much cereal, but when I do, I eat it for breakfast. Even though it has been a long time I have seen an ad from Kellogg’s.
3. Cinema + Popcorn
There is nothing special about the popcorn. It’s a horrible snack. It doesn’t satisfy hunger at all. It has to come in large quantities to be meaningful. There is no pleasure derived from it other than the fact that it’s a good way to keep the mouth busy when doing something else that’s not so serious.
Popcorn had no serious commercial value until someone got a genius idea. The idea was to sell popcorn to people who came to the cinema to watch movies. Even better, make it a side benefit of buying a movie ticket. That simple strategy made the popcorn.
Today, people instinctively take popcorn while watching movies, especially at the cinema. Most people don’t even know how or why they’re related. It’s a simple marketing strategy.
There are some products and services that cannot stand on their own as an offer. But combining them as a side benefit to another offer makes it so compelling.
4. Brush Your Teeth Every Morning
Did you know that there was a time when people were not brushing their teeth? Just about 100 years ago, brushing your teeth was a strange idea. Who changed that? It was the companies selling toothpaste.
Today I cannot eat anything in the morning without brushing my teeth first. I know some people who can, but they still have to brush their teeth later.
Some say you should brush twice a day. Some say in the morning only. Some say after every meal. There is one thing I know: Every civilized person brushes at least once a day. Now they call it personal hygiene. But it is a product of marketing.
That marketing strategy understood that people want to be hygienic. The strategy has now eaten into our everyday life. You know you wouldn’t die if you don’t brush your teeth, but it’s just so uncomfortable not doing it.
Today it’s not whether or not to buy toothpaste, it’s all about which toothpaste to buy.
5. Have You Done the Insurance?
This is another option no one second-guesses anymore. In the very early days of the insurance business, salespeople literally went knocking on doors to sell insurance. But today, your ownership of an asset or expensive commodity is not complete without insurance.
Insurance is selling the probability of a negative occurrence. They sell peace of mind. In some cases, the event never happens. But the peace of mind that it will be taken care of if it does happen is what insurance sells. We are now used to that today.
If you were buying a property, you would ask about the insurance. Imagine that they tell you that the building has no insurance. It would be the first thing you would get. You don’t need a salesperson to pitch you. In fact, you will call your insurance expert yourself.
In insurance, there wasn’t a particular marketing campaign that led to its rise. Instead, it was just a mental process that naturally evolved over time. But it’s a great example of something that really wasn’t necessary that is now very necessary.
6. Would You Like Fries With That?
With this simple phrase, McDonald’s got you spending a little bit more when you come to buy.
I often wondered how chicken and chips became a thing. It is the same thing. People love to eat chicken. Chips are just a way of turning chicken into a snack. And it was successful.
This is quite similar to cinema + popcorn. The strategy is upselling the customer to something complementary to what they have just bought. After all, it’s not about what they bought, it’s about the result they want from what they got.
This strategy has been used on several other things. But McDonald’s shows how effective it can be over the counter.
7. A Diamond Is Forever
This is arguably the best marketing campaign ever. It is a marketing ploy that got people into buying diamonds. It was very simple: Put diamonds on engagement rings as a symbol of “love forever.”
The idea of “love forever” because diamonds are forever was not marketed to the guys. They know that the guys will only buy what their ladies want. So they marketed it to the ladies, hereby putting pressure on the guys to only buy rings with diamonds.
This turned diamonds from a jewel people don’t really need into something that is an absolute necessity in marriage proposals. And of course, the company behind this campaign, De Beers, has made a fortune from it.
I’m not sure if the ad is still running today, but the idea still lives in the minds of people even now. In fact, most people might not be able to accurately tell you where they got this idea that an engagement ring must have a diamond. But they just know it.
It has transcended just rings to bracelets and necklaces. It’s now the absolute symbol of luxury and exclusivity that many want to be a part of.
There are some other great marketing campaigns. But these are just to show how successful marketing campaigns have interrupted the world and shaped the modern lifestyle.