Dave Trott
Aug 29, 2023

Dave Trott's blog: Who are we fooling?

With an example of tobacco companies using filters, the author asks who is brand purpose really for

Dave Trott's blog: Who are we fooling?
Cigarettes didn’t used to have filters, just tobacco.
But in the early 1950s, people started worrying about the harmful effects of smoking.
Articles began appearing like “Cancer by the Carton” in Reader’s Digest.
How cigarette smoke was full of tar, and smokers were taking it deep into their lungs.
So people started to quit smoking.
To halt these losses, the tobacco companies needed to make smoking seem less unhealthy.
They put filters, to trap the tar, on the end of their cigarettes.
Kent cigarettes claimed its filters trapped more tar than anyone else’s – its advertising slogan was: “The Greatest Health Protection in Cigarette History.”
Kent said their unique advantage was the Micronite filter, which was actually made from asbestos.
“What is ‘Micronite’?” asked Kent’s ads: “It’s a pure, dust-free, completely harmless material that is so safe, so effective, it is actually used to help filter the air in the operating rooms of leading hospitals.”
In 1954, Kent was selling 5,50,000 packs a day – in four years, it sold 13 billion cigarettes with Micronite filters to smokers.
Not only did its filters not make cigarettes healthier, smokers were more likely to get cancer by inhaling cigarette smoke through Kent’s asbestos filter.
So the cure was actually worse than the problem it was supposed to solve.
Eventually, Kent was persuaded of the health risks.
It stopped making the Micronite filter from asbestos and changed to the cellulose acetate filter that everyone else used.
The ironic thing is, filters didn’t actually make cigarettes any healthier.
Dr Peter Shields of Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Centre says: “You actually get more, not less, bad chemicals.”
Filters were just a marketing tool.
Just an attempt to make smokers believe cigarettes were less dangerous.
So let’s just remind ourselves of Kent’s stated brand purpose, “The Greatest Health Protection in Cigarette History”, and how far that was from the actual truth.
And let’s remind ourselves that the Holy Grail of modern advertising is brand purpose.
The theory is that brand purpose is what consumers need in order to buy into your brand.
If they agree with your brand purpose, they are more likely to want your brand.
But let’s stop being marketing experts for a minute and remember when we were mere consumers.
Did brand purpose ever make a difference to what we bought?
Did we even know what anyone’s “brand purpose” was?
Of course not, we didn’t know because ordinary people don’t believe it or care about it.
They don’t believe it because they know it’s made up by marketing “experts”.
Marketing experts who think the punters are mugs who will believe anything.
So who is brand purpose really for?
It’s obviously not for consumers, they don’t know or care.
No, it’s for presentations, for comfort for the client, for the shareholders’ brochures.
The consumers know it’s meaningless even if we don’t.
Just a bit of pointless waffle.
In fact, the consumers are a lot smarter than we are.
(Dave Trott is the author of Crossover Creativity, The Power of Ignorance, Creative Blindness and How to Cure It, Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three. This article first appeared on CampaignLive.co.uk)
Campaign India

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