Make Marketing History

The views of a marketing deviant.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Truth in Advertising?

One of my key mantras is something of a back to basics cry - specifically the 4 Ps of marketing (product, price, place and promotion). Old school thinking for sure but, I would argue, a good framework on which to hang one's marketing outlook. Most importantly of all, promotion the P which most people would think of as marketing is I believe the last one in the equation. The first one is to meet a real or perceived customer need by creating a remarkable product. When I see historically bad marketing, I find that an ignorance of that fact is not far behind.

Thus I read today that, having been rebuked by the British Advertising Standards Authority for repeatedly claiming that it leaves users 100% dandruff-free, Head & Shoulders (the leading brand with a 12% market share) is being relaunched as female-friendly.

It's defence, as reported in The Times, was just mind-boggling. It was that "100 per cent dandruff-free did not actually mean that all dandruff would disappear and that its slogan meant that regular use would eliminate the “visible flakes” — as seen by other people from a distance of two feet, chosen as the approximate gap between people when they are in conversation".

This sort of thing just undermines the whole marketing thrust in my eyes. "Anti-dandruff" is a vague but comprehensible claim but as soon as you claim 100% you can only be on a losing track so I think it's good news for P & G that they have had to ditch the claim but their new thrust still speaks of old style marketing jargon for want of a better word.

With the help of Kristin Davis as the “face of Head & Shoulders”, Procter & Gamble is trying to move the brand from being a “medicated proposition” to being a cosmetic product for the whole family. Whatever that means! Wouldn't it have been easier and less costly to better manage customer expectations and align their worldview with the realities of the product?


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