Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Marlboro Man

(continued from And Now a Word from Our Sponsor, see 8/10 below)

Of all the thousands upon thousands of ad campaigns produced during the Creative Era, a period in time from 1904 leading up to the present, perhaps the most remarkable was the campaign created by Leo Burnett for Philip Morris: The Marlboro Man.

The Marlboro Man demonstrated the awesome power of advertising like no other ad campaign before it or since. Leo Burnett’s campaign took a brand of cigarette that had languished for years, repositioned it, changed the image of the brand through its advertising, and drove it to become the most valuable brand in the world.

Philip Morris introduced Marlboro – which was named after the street where its London factory was located – to the U.S. in 1924 as a women’s cigarette, based on the slogan “Mild as May.” During World War II, the brand faltered and was taken off the market.

In 1942, Reader's Digest published an article which claimed that all cigarettes, regardless of brand, were essentially the same, and equally deadly. Also, in 1957, Reader's Digest published another article that linked smoking with lung cancer. Philip Morris had seen its chance to reintroduce Marlboro and market it as the “safer” filtered brand. Unfortunately for Marlboro, formerly regarded as “Mild as May,” the new filters were considered an extension of its previous feminine image. Phillip Morris had to completely revise its advertising strategy in order to attract a new target market with a new concern: addicted male smokers who were afraid of acquiring lung cancer.

In 1954, Chicago ad agency Leo Burnett created the first Marlboro Man, and Marlboro was reintroduced to the nation in 1955 with the Tattooed Man campaign. At the time, Marlboro had one quarter of 1% share of the American market.

After its introduction in 1955, Marlboro became the top selling filtered cigarette in New York. Eight months after the campaign opened -- it was a newspaper campaign -- sales had increased 5,000 percent.

The early campaign showed a variety of Marlboro men. The Marlboro Man could be a Navy Officer, a Flyer, or a Cowboy, and he had a tattooed wrist which, Esquire reported in 1960, “suggested a romantic past, a man who had once worked with his hands, who knew the score, who merited respect.” In the first years of the ad campaign, public responses to the different Marlboro Man personalities were monitored. The cowboy emerged as the most popular character. By 1963, the tattooed sailors and other characters were retired, and the cowboy became the sole representative of the Marlboro Man. In 1964, the Marlboro Country campaign was launched: “Come to where the flavor is. Come to Marlboro Country.” Marlboro sales began growing at 10% per year. In 1971, cigarette ads were banned from tv, yet even that didn’t unsaddle the Marlboro Man, and in 1972 Marlboro became the best-selling cigarette in the world. (Winston was the best-selling cigarette in the U.S., but Marlboro overtook Winston in 1975 in the U.S., too.)

By 1992, Financial World ranked Marlboro the world's No. 1 most valuable brand, with a market worth of over $31 billion. In 1995, Marlboro peaked at a 29% share of the U.S. market.

Success on a level achieved by the Marlboro Man remains the Holy Grail in advertising. Yet the Marlboro Man belongs to an Era whose time has past. He now rides off slowly into the sunset.

(to be continued….)

Sources and additional reading:

Shumon Sharif, Advertising Marlboro, Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Cigarette Consumption,

Adage.com, “The Advertising Century”, http://www.adage.com/century/icon01.html

Thursday, August 10, 2006

And Now a Word from Our Sponsor....

(continued from What’s Up, Doc?, see 8/8 below)

For those who have just joined us, we’ve been discussing the history of the advertising business in order to gain a historical perspective that will help us better understand the significant changes that are taking place in advertising today. Let’s pause a moment for a brief recap:

We discussed the “Media Era”, a period from 1841-1903 which saw the birth of the advertising industry from its roots as a media buying business (see posts dated 5/19, 5/24).

Then we talked about the start of the “Creative Era”, when the advertising industry quickly turned its attention from media buying to creative and defined advertising as “salesmanship in print” (see posts dated 6/5, 6/15).

We covered the “Space Age”, from 1841-1921, a period in time when the basic institutions, policies, procedures, and practices of the advertising business were formed. The Space Age is so-named because it was a time in the ad business when space-based (i.e. print) media -- newspapers, magazines, outdoor -- were the exclusive media of the day (see post 6/26)

More recently, we’ve been discussing a period I call the “Air Raid”, from 1922-1975, which saw the introduction and growth of new media -- radio and television -- which brought a whole new dimension to advertising, a dimension of Time (see posts dated 6/29, 7/7, 7/19, 8/2, and 8/8).

The period leading up to World War II saw some important changes in the practice of marketing and media. It became more scientific. Advertising practitioners wanted to understand what made advertising work. In the world at large, this was a period in time that brought forward men like Albert Einstein, who changed people's perspective of space and time with his new theories about our physical world, and Sigmund Freud who revealed astounding insights into the workings of the mind. It was a time of introspection and learning.

It was a time when business practices changed, too. Maybe it was the curiosity of the times, or maybe it was the necessities of war that brought about the change in the way business was conducted. The wartime crash program of weapons research and development; the planning necessitated by the large-scale mobilization of resources; the acute problems connected with the allocation of scarce facilities, manpower, and materials in both the military establishment and in industry; the broadened use of sampling procedures and operations research techniques -- all these were steps toward a more rational, more orderly, and better informed process of decision-making in all phases of economic activity.

The Space Age ended at about the time Claude Hopkins published his famous book, Scientific Advertising, wherein Hopkins argued that advertising had reached that status of a science. “It is based on fixed principles,” he said, “and is reasonably exact. The causes and effects have been analyzed until they are well understood. The correct method of procedure have been proved and established. We know what is most effective, and we act on basic law.”

Marketing skills and the media planning and buying side of the advertising business continued to develop along these more “scientific” lines. Marketing and Media research became more sophisticated. In larger advertising agencies, media planning developed as a separate function from media buying, at least for broadcast media.

Ironically, however, many copywriters and art directors rejected the so-called “science” of advertising, and the Great Debate began. Was advertising Science or Art?

And now a word from our sponsor…This history is brought to you by Smarter Media. We remind you that you can get better results from advertising through smarter media placement. For more information, please contact Rich Miller at rich.miller@smartermedia.net.

We’ll turn back now to the creative part of the Creative Era.

(to be continued….)

Sources and additional reading:

Kenneth H. Myers Jr., SRDS, The National Authority Serving the Media-Buying Function, Northwestern University Press, Evanston, Illinois, 1968

Stephen Fox, The Mirror Makers, William Morrow and Co., New York, 1984

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What's Up, Doc?

(continued from Marketing 101, see 8/2 below)

Neil McElroy's formula for P&G's success was find out what the consumers want and give it to them. Proctor & Gamble went to extreme lengths to do both. It hired hundreds of women to bake, wash dishes, and do laundry in their own homes, and then report the results. This kind of market research became the hallmark of P&G's approach to the development of new products and the continuous effort to improve existing ones.

For many years, the leader of the market-research effort was D. Paul "Doc" Smelser, a small, feisty, serious man who often came to work dressed in sporty suits and ties. The cerebral Smelser had earned a Ph.D. in economics from Johns Hopkins (hence the nickname "Doc"). He started at P&G in a new unit that had been organized in 1923 for the purpose of analyzing the markets for cottonseed oil and other commodities. Doc was fond of walking up to senior executives and asking them, out of the blue, questions such as "What percentage of Ivory soap is used for face and hands and what percentage for dishwashing?" Often nobody knew the answer. Thus Smelser was able to conclude that P&G, as a company, remained ignorant of some basic elements of how its products were being used, and therefore how they should be marketed.

Doc Smelser's embarrassing questions raised big issues, and the company responded quickly. In 1925 it created a formal Market Research Department and put Doc himself in charge of it. For the next 34 years, until his retirement in 1959, Doc built this group into perhaps the most sophisticated unit of its kind in the world. He and his staff of researchers (ultimately several hundred strong) asked a variety of audiences a series of detailed questions. In tabulating the answers, they discovered almost everything that could be learned about how the company's products and competing items were being used, how they might be used, and what consumers liked or disliked about them. Doc was especially well informed about the reach of advertising media. He liked to surprise managers of radio stations by giving them precise statistics about the size of their audience, statistics they themselves did not possess.

One of Doc's best-known innovations was Procter & Gamble's corps of door-to-door interviewers. This group consisted mostly of young women who had graduated from college and therefore possessed "the maturity to travel alone," as one of their supervisors put it. A criterion for the successful applicant was that she be attractive but not inordinately so. Doc wanted members of his force to project a wholesome and nonthreatening image, so as to inspire confidence and elicit candid answers.

Doc's interviewers infiltrated neighborhoods all over the country, going from house to house armed with an imposing array of questions: about laundry, cooking, dishwashing, and every other activity for which P&G marketed a product or was thinking of introducing one. Female interviewers were instructed to wear a conservative dress, high heels, gloves, and a hat. As they knocked on doors and talked with consumers, they were to carry no lists, forms, or writing materials. The visits could then seem more casual, even though all conversations were designed to extract copious and specific data. Interviewers were expected to have total recall, and often would hurry back to their cars to record what they had learned.

In the 1960s, the company began to phase out this group. Cheap long-distance telephone rates had made it possible to conduct mass surveys more cost efficiently. By the 1970s, Market Research at P&G was doing about a million and a half telephone or mail-in interviews each year. When the company became a heavy television advertiser, it instituted its "DAR" (Day after Recall) method for measuring the impact and memorability of TV commercials. With the help of its many advertising agencies, P&G used focus groups and many other kinds of opinion-sampling techniques to adapt its products to changing needs and tastes and sharpen its commercial messages.

In time, nearly every consumer-products company had to conduct market research in order to prosper. But Procter & Gamble was the leader, and it remained so into the twenty-first century. The biggest changes at P&G after Doc Smelser's time were in the growing number of the company's brands and the broadening of its markets.

In 2002, P&G celebrated its 165th anniversary. It had 12 billion-dollar brands in its portfolio. These brands included Pampers, Tide, Ariel, Always, Pantene, Charmin, Bounty, Iams, Crest, Folgers, Pringles, and Downy. In 2004, Actonel became another billion-dollar brand, and the first pharmaceutical brand to reach this important milestone. And in 2005, P&G and Gillette merged into one company and added five more billion-dollar brands to their product portfolio, including Gillette and Braun's shaving and grooming products, the Oral-B dental care line and Duracell batteries.

Today, Procter & Gamble operates in five segments: P&G Beauty, Health Care, Baby Care and Family Care, Fabric Care and Home Care, and Snacks and Coffee. The P&G Beauty segment offers antiperspirants or deodorants, colognes, cosmetics, feminine protection, hair care, hair color, personal cleansing, and skin care. The Health Care segment offers health care, oral care, and various drugs. The Baby Care and Family Care segment offers kids' personal care products, diapers, pampers, detergents, toilet tissues, paper towels, and tissues. The Fabric Care and Home Care segment offers dish care, laundry, and special fabric care products, as well as household cleaners. The Snacks and Coffee segment offers snacks and beverages. The Company markets approximately 300 branded products in approximately 160 countries.

Now, what do you think Doc Smelser would say of Agency.com’s approach to research?

(to be continued….)

Sources and additional reading:

Harvard Business School, Working Knowledge for Business Leaders, “American Business, 1920-2000: How It Worked - P&G: Changing the Face of Consumer Marketing”


PG.com, “Our History”

Yahoo Finance, “Profile”

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Marketing 101

(continued from The Ratings Game, see 7/19 below)

Other innovations during the “Air Raid” period we’ve been discussing (the period between 1922 and 1975) were the development of the brand management system and the practice of market research. Indeed, companies made the transition from being sellers of products to being disciplined marketers of products. Procter & Gamble led the way.

William Procter, who emigrated from England, was heading West when he stopped at Cincinnati to take care of his ailing wife, who soon died. James Gamble, who emigrated from Ireland, was also heading West when he, too, stopped at Cincinnati for medical care for himself. Both men ended up settling there.

William Procter established himself as a candlemaker, while James Gamble apprenticed himself to a soapmaker. The two might never have met had they not married sisters, Olivia and Elizabeth Norris, whose father convinced his new sons-in-law to become business partners. In 1837, as a result of Alexander Norris' suggestion, a bold new enterprise was born: Procter & Gamble.

Their business of selling soap and candles prospered, and by 1859, 22 years after they formed their partnership, the company’s sales reached $1 million and they employed 80 people.

During the Civil War, Procter & Gamble was awarded several contracts to supply soap and candles to the Union armies. These orders kept the factory busy day and night, building the Company's reputation as soldiers returned home with their P&G products.

In 1879, James Norris Gamble, son of the founder and a trained chemist, developed an inexpensive, high quality white soap. Inspiration for the soap's name—Ivory—came to Harley Procter, the founder's son, as he read the words "out of ivory palaces" in the Bible one Sunday in church. The name seemed a perfect match for the white soap's purity, mildness, and long-lasting qualities.

By 1890, P&G was selling more than 30 different types of soap, including Ivory. In that same year, after running the Company as a partnership for 53 years, the partners incorporated to raise additional capital for expansion. William Alexander Procter, son of the founder, was named first President. P&G set up an analytical lab at Ivorydale to study and improve the soap-making process. It was one of the earliest product research labs in American industry.

P&G continued to grow and prosper, expanding its manufacturing facilities outside of Cincinnati which increased capacity and improved distribution of products to its customers. In 1911, P&G introduced Crisco, the first all-vegetable shortening. Crisco provided a healthier alternative to cooking with animal fats and was more economical than butter.

In 1924, a market research department was created to study consumer preferences and buying habits—one of the first such organizations in history. And in 1926, in response to the growing popularity of perfumed beauty soaps, P&G introduced Camay.

Neil H. McElroy came to Procter & Gamble in 1925 after graduating from Harvard College. McElroy changed marketing forever when he wrote the classic “McElroy memo” on May 31, 1931, which lead to the creation of the discipline of brand management.

While working on the advertising campaign for Camay soap, McElroy became frustrated with having to compete not only with soaps from Lever and Palmolive, but also with Ivory, P&G's own flagship product. In his now-famous memo, he argued that more concentrated attention should be paid to Camay, and by extension to other P&G brands as well. In addition to having a person in charge of each brand, there should be a substantial team of people devoted to thinking about every aspect of marketing it. This dedicated group should attend to one brand and it alone. The new unit should include a brand assistant, several "check-up people," and others with very specific tasks.

The concern of these managers would be the brand, which would be marketed as if it were a separate business. In this way the qualities of every brand would be distinguished from those of every other. In ad campaigns, Camay and Ivory would be targeted to different consumer markets, and therefore would become less competitive with each other.

Thus was born the modern system of brand management.

(to be continued….)

Sources and additional reading:

PG.com, Our History


Wikipedia, Neil H. McElroy