Put a diamond ring on it… not an emerald or a ruby

Single-Ladies-Put-A-Ring-On-It-Music-Video-beyonce-17782615-854-480In the Single Ladies music video, Beyonce sings to her ex-boyfriend that he had three years to “put a ring on it” but didn’t.

My guess is Beyonce’s ex- in the song probably wished he had got down on one knee and offered her a diamond.  Too late!

the ring

 

When Jay-Z slipped some bling to onto Beyonce’s engagement finger it came in the form of a 20 carat, $5 million rock of a diamond.

A diamond.  It’s tradition to give the woman you love a diamond engagement ring.  We’ve been doing it for centuries, right?  Wrong!

Diamonds are forever (or at least that’s what DeBeers wants you to think)

diamonds The DeBeers diamond company is said to control 90 percent of all diamond production.  They control how many diamonds are mined and how many diamonds are put on the market.  They create an artificial shortage of diamonds.

In the 1930s DeBeers wanted to tap into the American market.  So, they hired an American advertising firm and created the Diamonds are forever campaign.  You can read this article about how this diamond conglomerate changed American customs.  It’s based on the books The Rise and Fall of Diamonds: The Shattering of a Brilliant Illusion (1982) and The Diamond Invention (1982).  Better yet, watch this 4-minute  College Humor video that pretty much nails how this “tradition” started.  Be warned.  They do drop the f-bomb.


So the diamond ring tradition we hold so dearly was a big marketing scheme… that worked… and still works today.

Does she… or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure

Today everyone colors their hair.  I do (once a year).  My nieces did when they were in grade school.  Guys get their hair highlighted or streaked.  (Remember boy band hair?)

Believe it or not, there was a time when only bar floozies and women of ill-repute colored their hair.  This was not good for Clairol hair color sales.  So they used advertising to change the public’s view of hair coloring.

miss clairolClairol’s Does she…or doesn’t she campaign brought hair color into the norm.  The print ads started with mothers photographed with children with the same hair color. Child’s hair color is natural and the mother’s hair color matches, reinforcing the idea that Clairol’s looks natural too. The women in the ads are not floozies; they are mothers who attend PTA meetings.  You sat next them in church Sunday morning.

According to a 1967 Time Magazine article, the campaign created a massive attitude shift.  Before the campaign, only 1 out of 15 women would admit to coloring their hair. Eleven years later 1 out of every 2 women said yes, they do color their hair.  Before the campaign hair color sales were at $25 million.  Eleven years later, annual sales totaled $186 million.

Check out one of the early Does she…or doesn’t she television commercials.

Think Small.  The little bug that could

EstuffIn the 50s and early 60s people considered the Volkswagen Beetle a German-built toy car.  They closely tied it to Hitler and WWII Germany.

On college campuses stuffing people into a Volkswagen became a big fad. Basically, the Beetle was a joke.  Muscle cars like Cougars, Cameros and GTOs were the rage.

Volkswagen needed a make-over.   They got it with the “Think Small” campaign.

volkswagen_think_small

In this series of tongue-in-cheek ads Volkswagen took what may not seem like features and made them desirable.

One ad stated you wouldn’t have to deal with boiling radiator problems, because Volkswagen’s don’t have radiators.  Another ad said if you ran out of gas Volkswagens were light enough you could push them to the gas station. But wasn’t as likely now that a gas gauge is standard equipment.

Advertising Age named the Think small campaign the number one campaign of the century.   This television commercial will give you a taste of what the campaign was all about.  (It’s funny.  Definitely worth 60 seconds to watch.)

The Think Small campaign not only increase sales numbers, it also created a positive brand image for Volkswagen that lives on today.

Apple takes down IBM

In 1984 IBM dominated the computer market.  Apple set out to change that by introducing the MacIntosh.  Steve Jobs knew he had to do more than just put these new computers on the shelf. So, tapping into George Orwell’s 1984 novel, Jobs and Apple created a commercial scenario where Apple would take down “Big Brother” IBM.  Apple paid to have the spot air in Super Bowl XVIII.  They never paid to air the ad again.    Yet this commercial has been seen millions of times by people all over the world and is considered one of the most iconic commercials of all time.

In the early 2000s Mac continued to destroy PC sales with it’s Get a Mac campaign.  The series of ads simply demonstrated the differences between PC’s more business-like capabilities and Mac’s more life-style capabilities (iLife which include iMovie, iChat, iPhoto, etc.)  As the series continued the ads pointed out how Macs could run all of Microsoft Office including spreadsheets.

This ad particular ad demonstrates one of Mac’s key advantages at the time… you could pull it out of the box, plug it in and get to work.

Some critics called the ads mean spirited and that John Hodgeman’s PC character was more sympathetic, but the ads worked.  Within one month of the campaign starting 200,000 Macs sold.  Within a year Mac sales increased 39 percent. Adweek declared it the best ad campaign for the first decade of the new century. But, more importantly, the campaign created a perception that PCs are stogey, bulky and difficult to operate while Macs come straight out of the box ready to get to work creatively.  (If you want to get lost on your computer, you can binge watch the Get a Mac ads here.)

The Assignment

There are plenty of examples of how advertising has changed our culture, our minds and our spending habits.

  • What surprised, dumbfounded or otherwise enlightened you about each of the examples I shared with you?
    • DeBeers’ Diamonds are Forever campaign
    • Clairol’s Does she or doesn’t she? campaign
    • Volkswagen’s Think Small campaign
    • Apple’s 1984 and Get A Mac campaigns
  • Pick one of the ad campaigns I shared with you and do some additional research on how it impacted our culture’s perceptions.  Share what you learned.  Make sure to include a link to your research cites.
  • What other advertisements do you believe had an impact on you or our culture?

Answer the questions and make sure to explain and/or justify your answer.  Your answers should make it clear you looked at the video/visual examples included in the blog. Share your answers in the “What advertising made me do” discussion assignment on Canvas.

I’m thinking this is a 150-200 word post.  Post your comment before July 6 at noon to earn 15 points.  You’ll be automatically assigned to comment on two other student’s posts. Do that before July 10 at 11:59 p.m for an additional 10 points.

While I do love your comments to this blog, if you want points for this assignment post your answers to the correct assignment on Canvas.

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