Food… Shot from Guns? (My Life in Advertising: Chapters 12 and 13)

YOU can be 10% more knowledgeable about advertising giant Claude C Hopkins’ Secrets to Success with this one PRL post!

This is the 11th post in a series covering the current PRL book selection, My Life in Advertising.

Chapter twelve of My Life in Advertising, Hopkins works on the Palmolive soap account.

Following Hopkins’ playbook, the ad agency offers to buy the beauty soap for whomever brings in a coupon. Palmolive uses this offer to force quick distribution in retail stores, because no business wants the customer going elsewhere. The customers become hooked because the rule of reciprocity says that something done for them, the free bar of soap, will increase their desire to give back.

You must have an extraordinary claim to make a dent in a crowded market. Image by Nesster, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
You must have an extraordinary claim to make a dent in a crowded market. Image by Nesster, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

Hopkins finishes the chapter reminding us that we must have an extraordinary claim if we aim to enter a crowded market. With Palmolive, there was a specific, extraordinary claim that 14 days of use would improve your skin. It was backed by the authoritate statement that “doctors prove” it.

Chapter thirteen, Hopkins works with the Quaker food company. After researching the manufacturing process of their Puffed Rice, Hopkins advertises it as “Food Shot from Guns” to increase curiosity. They build a personality around the line, Professor AP Anderson, lending authority to the campaign.

Quaker advertises their Puffed Rice in magazines where the readership can afford higher-cost Quaker products. Affording Quaker meets a high-status desire.

Hopkins has another win on his hands.

When he tries to replicate this success with oatmeal, however, the advertising campaign is a failure! Hopkins realizes that everyone’s mind is made up about oatmeal. The price of converting customers to Quaker-branded oatmeal was too high.

Quaker was able to build its customer base for some product lines, but those same techniques didn't work for other product lines. Image by Jamie, Flickr, CC-By-2.0
Quaker was able to build its customer base for some product lines, but those same techniques didn’t work for other product lines. So Quaker invented new markets. Image by Jamie, Flickr, CC-By-2.0

Instead, Quaker creates a new product and a new market: Quaker Quick Oats. This is a successful campaign for both Hopkins and Quaker.

The lesson Hopkins learns is that even an experienced advertiser doesn’t know what will resonate with the public. We must test and refine ads, and we must recognize when a product line isn’t profitable enough to advertise.

 

Progressive Insurance is great at these methods (I’m not a customer). They have a personality, Flo. They created a new market for insurance by being the first to offer policies via a website. And they have an extraordinary claim that increases your curiosity with minimal cost to you — “15 minutes could save you 15% or more!”

What other curiosity-inspiring campaigns can you think of?

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *