Monday, February 18, 2008


Friday's post about the Gillette advertising from 1956 gave me opportunity to reflect on the role of psychology in advertising, and the cynical, canny triumph of effectiveness over style in modern marketing.

Pity the poor, naive marketing executives of 1956. They thought that because they were marketing a product intended for use by men, the advertising should be aimed at men. The use of a couple of international sailors would remind middle-aged men of their navy days during the war - the excitement, the travel, the masculine culture and the sense of worldliness.

However, fifty years later, we know better. The razors may be intended for use by men, but it's the wives and girlfriends who'll actually be doing the shopping. Capture the ladies and the men will follow. Even if they don't particularly like your razors, they're hardly going to schlep up to the shops themselves to buy their prefered brand if their significant other has left her prefered brand on the bathroom counter. They may complain a bit, but they'll fall into line eventually. Hence, men's razors are most effectively marketed by a male model with less stubble than a bowl of custard flexing his pecs at the mirror.

Machiavelli would be proud.


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