As I wrote in the last Marketing Matters article, “Key Copy Words” are essential to memorable and compelling advertising. They convey the strategic benefit in emotive customer language and complete the Campaign Idea.
I shared how the cigarette industry used KCWs to differentiate one brand from another. It starts with the strategic benefit, what we refer to as the “Key Thought”—what you must get into your target customer’s head (and heart). The Key Thought is then translated into KCWs that bolster the Campaign Idea to drive preference and achieve the “Communication Behavior Objective” (i.e., switching, adoption, increased frequency of usage, etc.).
However, it’s one thing to claim a benefit; it’s another thing entirely to get target customers to believe and subscribe to it. That’s where the “Reason-Why” and “Reason-To-Believe” come in. Each one can reinforce or provide differentiation where your brand’s strategic benefits are the same as your competitors.
For example, let’s suppose we have two competing toothpaste brands. They both claim they “get teeth whiter.” Whiter than what, we must infer. Whiter than each other? Doubtful, as they tend to use similar ingredients. Whiter than their non-whitening toothpaste products and/or their non-whitening product lines? Yes, probably.
However, one whitening brand contains and uses “baking soda” as its reason-why (ingredient). The other has and uses “the same ingredient ‘9 out of 10 dentists use’ to get your teeth whiter” (ingredient coupled with usage data).
While the outcome might be the same, I choose to purchase and use the toothpaste brand that uses the same ingredient that 9 out of 10 dentists use. I imagine you’d make the same choice.
Reason-Why is strategic. It’s about product design, results from clinical studies, endorsements from organizations, mode of action, ingredients, etc. Reason-To-Believe is tactical. It might be numbers of people using or celebrity endorsements, among others.
Returning to cigarette brands, they use and continue to use both types to support their proffered benefits.
- Kent treats your taste kindly. Why should we believe this? Its “‘Micronite Filter’ (product design) refines away harsh flavor, refines away harsh taste.”
- Lucky Strike, well, “it’s toasted” (processing). I imagine, therefore, that Lucky Strike might be milder tasting and, perhaps, even less harmful. Moreover, Lucky Strike leads one to infer it tastes better as we’re told, “Lucky Strike means ‘fine tobacco.’”
- Viceroys “’filter’ (design) the smoke!” They trap the tars, which cause the teeth to yellow. Also, (some) “dentists recommend Viceroys (endorsement).”
- Why might you feel reassured that smoking Camel Cigarettes is safer for you? “More doctors smoke camels than any other cigarette.” Proof (not that it’s safe, but that more doctors smoke Camels) is a nationwide study of cigarette preference among 113,597 (don’t you just love the precision!?!) of “doctors in every branch of medicine” (implied endorsement).
- Now, hold on a minute, 20,679 physicians say, “Luckies are less irritating.” That’s because “it’s toasted.” Toasting, we’re told, removes dangerous irritants.
- Kinsman’s “’Asthmatic’ Cigarettes contain herbs and other ingredients to relieve the distress of asthmatic paroxysms and for similar conditions resulting from hay fever which may produce difficult breathing. They contain stramonium, lobelia herb, ephedra, grindelia, cascarilla, euphorbia, cassia, and (OMG!) deer tongue (ingredients).”
- Camels are mild(er). In a coast-to-coast test of Camel smokers over 30 days, throat specialists examined a total of 2470 smokers and found not one single case of throat irritation (Brand sponsored study).
- Marshall’s Prepared Cubed Cigarettes are “sold by ‘All the Leading Druggists’ (Reason-To-Believe—the company we keep) throughout the world.”
- Chesterfield Kings deliver pleasure too good to miss. Why? They’re “made with 21 great tobaccos (ingredients).”
- Lose weight without pills or diet with trim reducing-aid cigarettes. They’ve “successful clinical tests” to support it.
- “Scientists of two universities prove Old Gold coolest smoke.” This claim is based upon two independent laboratory tests (science).
Take a gander at the ad below for Camel Cigarettes. It explains why Camels are so fresh (dust-free—processing, packaging, cleaning method, fine Turkish and mild domestic tobaccos). The only thing missing is freshness dating!
Cigarette advertisers used celebrities to support their claims (Reasons-To-Believe—implied endorsements). Among the many stars from all walks of life, race, and gender were:
- The crooners Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra sing their praise for Chesterfield Cigarettes.
- Actresses Ann Sheridan and Joan Crawford (Chesterfield), Barbara Stanwyck (L&M), and “Mrs. Humphrey Bogart,” Lauren Bacall (Cigarillo).
- Comedians Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy for Old Gold Cigarettes.
- Athletes (OMG!) such as football great Frank Gifford and golf champion Sam Snead (Lucky Strike), baseball legends “‘Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron and Joe DiMaggio (Camel), Olympic star Jesse Owens (White Owl Cigars), Greenbay Packer bad boy Paul Hornung (Marlboro), and Boxing Heavy-Weight World Champion Joe Louis—endorsed cigarette brands.
- Let’s not forget Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez calling for Philip Morris.
- Nor should we overlook actor turned governor then president, Ronald Reagan, who appeared in an ad gifting Chesterfields to his many friends for Christmas.
Many, many more celebrities pitched in to endorse cigarette brands. You may not know the names, but they were incredibly popular before the ban on television and radio advertising (although many appeared in print advertising).
By the way, e-Cigs have picked up on using celebrity endorsers (or helping consumers infer that one is endorsing them) by placement in movies and using pictures of paparazzi capturing stars puffing on them. There’s Tom Ingram, a young British Touring Car professional racing driver, for SkyCig. Stephen Dorf, Catherine Heigl, Jim Carey, Johnny Depp, and Leonardo Di Caprio are caught smoking or supporting e-Cigs. The personalities and names have changed, but the use of celebrities to provide endorsement Reasons-To-Believe remains.
As I mentioned in my last musing, I loathe and detest the cigarette industry for marketing a bad product that cuts lives short (among them, my father) and afflicts smokers with conditions that undermine health and quality of life. Also, I abhor that they have made outrageous claims that were misleading and patently false.
However, there’s much to admire about how they’ve been able to promote even a wrong product by using proven principles—primary among them is incorporating KCWs and adding credibility by the imaginative use of Reasons-Why and Reasons-To-Believe to support their benefit promises.
One final note, the support must be a differentiator. If we use the same Reason-Why or Reason-To-Believe (e.g., clinical studies done in the same way and generate the same basic outcome— merely signifying that “the product works”) as our competitors, then we won’t win over customers to our brand.
“NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF ADVERTISING DOESN’T SELL MUCH OF ANYTHING.” David Ogilvy
Is your advertising among the ninety-nine percent? Read Chapter 9, Brand Communications that Suck, in AVOIDING CRITICAL MARKETING ERRORS: How to Go from Dumb to Smart Marketing. It will identify those critical errors and, importantly, point the way to developing advertising in the Top 1%. Learn more here: http://bdn-intl.com/avoiding-critical-marketing-errors
Peace and best wishes,