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OLD AD CONCEPTS HAVE GIVEN WAY TO CONCERNS OF ‘90S

SHARE OLD AD CONCEPTS HAVE GIVEN WAY TO CONCERNS OF ‘90S

In an economy gone ecological, some of the old marketing concepts that once could be relied upon to sell products have developed a reputation as bad as noxious chemicals.

In the best of the marketing tradition, however, you'll find few companies complaining. While their tested concepts have been degraded, they have embraced the new. What's new sells, and they know it.They accept the idea that they just can't use "disposable" without accepting consequences, and that in selling cars and gasoline they must steer clear of horsepower claims and talk about low mileage and clean burning.

In cereals, health is tops and taste is now secondary. In a cholesterol-conscious world the beef industry talks about leanness rather than juiciness, and fast-food outlets are forced to reconsider their recipes.

Annual reports of paper companies show clean streams rather than log-filled ones, and those of heavy manufacturers are more likely to show the factory's beautiful front lawn than the parts inventory in the rear.

In marketing today you must be against pollution, for recycling, against fat and for lean, for peace rather than military might, and view diets as necessary to good health rather than for making a person swim-suit slim.

You can do no wrong if you align your company with peace, health, equal rights, sexual equality, clean environment, patriotism, education, naturalness, opportunities for minorities, community mindedness, family life.

While such concerns have forced almost every company in America to rethink its values and recast its image, the effort has not been without benefits. Like anything else, these issues can be used to promote goods and services.

In short, and in a marketing sense, those movements designed to improve the quality of life have come of age. They are powerful enough to sell goods and services.

While the observance of Earth Day on April 22 is the proximate reason for all the attention being given such issues, they have been developing for a long time, simultaneously with a weakening of resistance.

Twenty years ago, for example, some of the nation's biggest paper companies were reluctant to spend the nine-figure sums required to clean up their operations, which were among the largest polluters of waterways.

The Council on Economic Priorities, a volunteer group, began rating them on compliance with environmental standards and discovered that paper companies with the best environmental records tended to have the highest price-earnings ratios on their stocks. It helped sell environmental issues.

Peace became a practical, dollar and sense issue, too. Various groups developed mutual funds that included shares of companies deemed peaceful, that is, not connected with military matters in any way. Some did fairly well.

Health consciousness was being raised at about the same time, and when President Jimmy Carter denounced the three-martini lunch as a waste of money it already was on its way out. Liquor consumption statistics document it.

The consumer movement, which began even before the environmental, health and women's movements, was then at full strength, denouncing the very notions that bigger was better, that glitz was chic, that exclusive was better.

All movements develop their radical fringes and tend to be scorned at some time by some people, but if they have the goods, so to speak, they gain acceptance, even if grudgingly.

Acceptance is grudging no more for many of the movements that began in the 1960s and 1970s. They've come a long way, and you know it when corporate marketing people use their themes to sell goods and services.