More Proof: Marketing Works

Fools and professional liars sometimes go out of their way to paint big business marketing as inconsequential, ineffectual, a gigantic feather preen.

Of course, that’s turbo-jive.  Evidence abounds that marketing alters behavior.

Consider this latest news from Advertising Age:

For the first time in history and by the thinnest of margins, body wash outsold bar soap last year in food, drug and mass outlets tracked by Information Resources Inc., according to data reported by Deutsche Bank — $756.3 million to $754.2 million.

The cause?  Corporate toiletries peddlers began aggressively marketing “body wash,” which, thanks mainly to its Earth-destroying, marketing-friendly packaging, carries far higher profit margins than plain old soap bars, to U.S. men:

Since 2003, the year P&G’s Old Spice became the first of the big U.S. brands to try the body-wash market, sales of deodorant bar soap have plummeted nearly 40% to $234.7 million last year. Sales of non-deodorant bar soap — dominated by the more-female-oriented Dove — have grown modestly since that time, just not at the steady double-digit rate of body wash.

Getting out to a head start in front of Unilever’s Axe, which entered body wash in 2004 in the U.S., ultimately didn’t guarantee victory for P&G. Axe may have showed up late, but it’s arguably (and yes, they really do argue) bigger in the category now, having overtaken Old Spice lately in Walmart facings in P&G’s hometown of Cincinnati lately, for example.

If you doubt the power of such efforts, click on this chart:

Change you can believe in…

Items from the Ad Age Annual

Advertising Age has just published its annual review of the basic size and scope of the advertising industry in the year 2009.  As always, it includes some (though certainly not full) information about the size and scope of big business marketing, the wider managerial discipline of which advertising is but a part.

Some key pieces of information from this December 28, 2009 issue:

→Ad Age labels the economic conditions of the past year or so “the worst recession of your life,” and pronounces that “it is over.”  (See cover at left.)

From being sick and watching lots of TV this past week, I can assure you that this “it is over” mantra is now de rigeuer in corporate communications.  We shall see whether that’s accurate, or a rather major case of whistling in the graveyard.

→”Ad spending in 2009 suffered its sharpest drop since the Great Depression: -12.9%.  This recession also marked the first time since the 1930s that U.S. ad spending declined for two consecutive years.”

For what it’s worth, much of this historic decline reflected what Ad Age calls “a freefall in local advertising” due mostly to the decline of automobile dealership advertising.  This speaks to the continuing centrality of the auto-industrial complex within the corporate capitalist order.

→2009 saw “the first decline [in the overall revenue of the Top 100 media corporations] since Ad Age began ranking media firms in 1981.”

This fact is very powerful evidence of the ever-increasing penetration of commercial image-projection within everyday life in the United States.  No wonder TV addiction continues to worsen, despite the appalling awfulness, narrowness, and fourth-rate derivateness of the vast majority of commercial-media content.  (Spongebob, “Squid on Strike,” being a major exception!)

→Overall, marketing continues to grow faster (and decline later and less) than its advertising sub-component.   Ad Age reports that, while ad agency revenues shrank by 9.7 percent in 2009, those of “marketing services” firms fell by only 2.4 percent.

→Jobs in ad agencies are subject to the usual corporate capitalist logic:  While ad agency revenues fell by 9.7 percent in 2009, ad agency employment shrank by 14%!

Can you say “Investors first, last, and always!”?

→In 2009, employment in “marketing consulting” and public relations was 202,200, while it was only 161,500 in advertising agencies.

Again, this confirms that marketing tends to grow faster than advertising, which itself tends to grow faster than the overall economy.

→For 2009, Ad Age estimates total U.S. advertising spending by the Top 100 advertisers was $102.6 billion.  That is more than two-thirds of total ad spending in the U.S., which Ad Age pegs at just under $150 billion.

Cocoa Krispies: Not a Health Food?

cocoakrispies

Hold onto your hats, boys and girls:  Cocoa Krispies is apparently not a health food after all!

Advertising Age is reporting that, due to its fear of a backlash arising from “parental concerns that [its] advertising and packaging was preying on fears of the H1N1 virus,” Kellogg Company, the billion-dollar-a-year profit engine that peddles Cocoa Krispies and other junk food, is removing preposterous “anti-oxidant” claims from Cocoa Krispies boxes.

Here is Kellogg’s official announcement:

Kellogg Company today announced its decision to discontinue the immunity statements on Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereals.

Last year, Kellogg Company started the development of adding antioxidants to Rice Krispies cereals. This is one way the Company responded to parents indicating their desire for more positive nutrition in kids’ cereal.

While science shows that these antioxidants help support the immune system, given the public attention on H1N1, the Company decided to make this change. The communication will be on pack for the next few months as packaging flows through store shelves. We will, however, continue to provide the increased amounts of vitamins A, B, C and E (25% Daily Value) that the cereal offers.

We will continue to respond to the desire for improved nutrition, and we are committed to communicating the importance of nutrition to our consumers.

Let’s run that through our handy-dandy, unpatented Consumer Trap Marketing-to-English Translator, shall we?

The results:

Kellogg Company today announced its decision to discontinue the immunity statements on Kellogg’s Rice Krispies cereals.  Meanwhile, we won’t tell you here that by “Rice Krispies,” we also mean “Cocoa Krispies.”  Including that fact would disclose that we are basically selling candy here.

Last year, Kellogg Company started the development of adding antioxidants to Rice Krispies and Cocoa Krispies cereals. This is one way the Company responded to parents indicating their desire for vulnerability to deceptive claims about more positive nutrition in kids’ cereal lives.

While science* shows suggests that these antioxidants may help support the immune system, given the public attention on that we know our vitamin-sprayed sugar crunch doesn’t have a prayer of preventing H1N1, the Company decided to make this change. The communication will be on pack for the next few months as packaging flows through store shelves. After all, it would cost us money to remove them now. We will, however, continue to provide spray on the increased amounts of vitamins A, B, C and E (25% Daily Value) that the cereal offers continues to provide us with an excuse for passing our product off as [wink, wink, make air quotes] “part of a nutritious breakfast.

We will continue to respond to ignore both the desire for improved nutrition and the nutritional and economic inferiority of our mega-processed and packaged product to plain old whole-grain bread, and we are committed to communicating the importance suppressing knowledge of nutrition and home economics to among our consumers targets.

Fuck you, and goodnight.

*When science is even conceivably on our side, it is absolute truth.  Climate change?  Dangers of excessive sugar intake?  Needs more research.

Some Good News

Turns out people aren’t as gullible as I recently reported.

This just in from Advertising Age:

CORRECTION: Both the original headline and the body of this story about Honda’s “Social Experiment” incorrectly stated that the automaker tallied 2 million fans on Facebook. Honda now has more than 250,000 fans (the one-day takeover Oct. 19 more than doubled the number of 63,083 and since then has grown.) The 2 million figure represented how many “connections” — or how many friends its fans collectively have — a very soft metric of social-media success. We were way off and we apologize for the errors.

Me, too.

Speaking of Clunkers…

clunker Cash for Clunkers is a mega-clunker, as it (very unsurprisingly) turns out.

What kind of MPG leap is the free-money-for-cars gambit yielding? It must be wondrous, right?

Not so much:

Edmunds.com analysts have determined that in May and June, the average fuel efficiency of recently purchased new cars was 21.8 miles per gallon. Since the program launched, the average has jumped to 23.2 mpg, a 6.1 percent improvement.

Wow! Stunning!

And how about the widespread report that the Toyota Corolla is now the #1 seller? Turns out that’s false. The actual bestseller is the Ford Escape SUV, which comes in six sub-models, so gets counted as six different makes, rather than one, in the bogus reports you’re hearing. As Advertising Age explains:

Interestingly, the government’s list of top-10 vehicles sold showed that consumers bought mostly compact cars during the promotion, with the Toyota Corolla in the No. 1 slot. The discrepancy arises because Uncle Sam considers each of the six versions of the Escape (as well as different versions of the trucks) to be a separate model, while Edmunds tallied all Escape-model sales.

The actual top ten models people are choosing with their “Clunkers” trade-ins, according to edmunds.com?

1. Ford Escape — an SUV

2. Ford Focus

3. Jeep Patriot — an SUV

4. Dodge Caliber — an SUV

5. Ford F-150 — a pick-up truck

6. Honda Civic

7. Chevrolet Silverado 1500 — a pick-up truck

8. Chevrolet Cobalt

9. Toyota Corolla

10. Ford Fusion

So, five of the top seven are SUVs or pick-ups.

“Only in America,” as they say…

Eskimos: Our Ice Shipment is Here!

In the first week or two after November 4, there was perhaps still a bit of wiggle-room for considering Advertising Age magazine’s announcement of its “Marketer of the Year” to be somewhat jestful.  Now, it’s clear how deadly serious and accurate that naming was, as it’s abundantly clear that the winner did indeed pull off something like the ultimate ice-sale-to-the-Eskimos.

Who was the Ad Age MOTY for 2008?  This operator:

The cabal of war criminals and clapped-out retread money-whores he’s surrounded himself with not only disprove all the major themes of his political marketing operation, but also suggest that, despite his verbal talents, he’s not a whole lot more print-literate than Bush the Younger.  Anybody who claims, as Obama does, to have been studying FDR’s accession to an early-stage Depression Presidency, yet who nevertheless avails himself of such a pack of hidebound creeps and shills is clearly unable to learn relevant facts and/or uninterested in doing so.

Some of the more deluded still harbor hope that all this is just a way to deflect reactionary thunderstrikes from a forthcoming season of reform.  No way.  This kind of unerring necrophilia can signify nothing but more of the same.  Hell, even Killiam Klinton, he of the Saudi/corporate capitalist slush fund, had his Robert Reich.  FDR had Henry Wallace, Frances Perkins, and, of course, Eleanor — and he listened to them.  Those figures make Reich look like an Eisenhower man, and Obama has zero, zero, zero people aboard who even approach Reich in thoughtfulness and unconventionality.

Makes this cartoon seem a tad optimistic…