The Most Genius Marketing Trick

Marketing Strategy Genius

My list is: I think whoever decided to sign Michael Jordan and produce his shoe with the Nike logo was the genius. Nike’s popularity boom in the 80s and 90s directly correlates to the career of the most revered NBA player of all time who just happened to be a spokesman for Nike and have a line of the most popular shoes of all time named after him.

Nike: Just Do It.

Did you know that, once upon a time, Nike’s product catered almost exclusively to marathon runners? Then, a fitness craze emerged — and the folks in Nike’s marketing department knew they needed to take advantage of it to surpass their main competitor, Reebok. (At the time, Reebok was selling more shoes than Nike).

And so, in the late 1980s, Nike created the “Just Do It.” campaign. It was a hit. In 1988, Nike sales were at $800 million; by 1998, sales exceeded $9.2 billion. “Just Do It.” was short and sweet, yet encapsulated everything people felt when they were exercising — and people still feel that feeling today. Don’t want to run five miles? Just Do It. Don’t want walk up four flights of stairs?

Just Do It. It’s a slogan we can all relate to: the drive to push ourselves beyond our limits. So when you’re trying to decide the best way to present your brand, ask yourself what problem are you solving for your customers. What solution does your product or service provide? By hitting on that core issue in all of your marketing messaging, you’ll connect with consumers on an emotional level that is hard to ignore.

Absolut Vodka: The Absolut Bottle

Despite having no distinct shape, Absolut made its bottle the most recognizable bottle in the world. Their campaign, which featured print ads showing bottles “in the wild,” was so successful that they didn’t stop running it for 25 years. It’s the longest uninterrupted ad campaign ever and comprises over 1,500 separate ads. I guess if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Volkswagen: Think Small

Many marketing and advertising professionals like to call Volkswagen’s “Think Small” campaign the gold standard. Created in 1960 by a legendary advertising group at Doyle Dane & Bernbach (DDB), the campaign set out to answer one question: How do you change peoples’ perceptions not only about a product, but also about an entire group of people?

See, Americans always had a propensity to buy big American cars — and even 15 years after WWII ended, most Americans were still not buying small German cars. So what did this Volkswagen advertisement do? It played right into the audience’s expectations. You think I’m small? Yeah, I am. They never tried to be something they were not. That’s the most important takeaway from this campaign: Don’t try to sell your company, product, or service as something it’s not. Consumers recognize and appreciate honesty.

California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk?

Thanks to the California Milk Processor Board’s “Got Milk?” campaign, milk sales in California rose 7% in just one year. But the impact ran across state borders, and to this day, you still can’t escape the millions of “Got [Fill-in-the-Blank]?” parodies.

De Beers: A Diamond is Forever

In 1999, AdAge declared De Beers’ “A Diamond is Forever” the most memorable slogan of the twentieth century. But the campaign, which proposed (pun very much intended) the idea that no marriage would be complete without a diamond ring, wasn’t just riding on the coattails of an existing industry. De Beers actually built the industry; they presented the idea that a diamond ring was a necessary luxury.

According to the New York TimesN.W. Ayer’s game plan was to “create a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring.”

Old Spice: The Man Your Man Could Smell Like

The very first part of Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, created by Wieden + Kennedy and launched in February 2010, was the following commercial. It became a viral success practically overnight:

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