P&G Heads for the Database Abyss
* Air Miles. (“Buy Smart, Fly Free.”) The brainchild of Michael Miles (sic), the program promised frequent flier miles on virtually everything. The illustration at the end of this story shows how a muncher could redeem the UPC codes from four mini-bags of potato chips for one frequent flier mile. Air Miles did some very flashy, expensive mailings, but the idea that people would spend time to acquire a single air mile was preposterous. The business obviously failed.
*Ponds Lotion, Dove Soap, Ore Ida (Heinz), and General Foods Viennese Chocolate Coffee. All of these were very elaborate mailings containing cents-off coupons for single products. Ponds and General Foods included samples, while the Dove Soap mailing contained litmus paper to use for testing your skin.
*Schweppes. Schweppes sent out a 6˝ x 9˝ envelope containing a single, 55-cent discount coupon with a Bermuda Sweepstakes on the back. Drop the numbers in the above formula and look at a major marketing catastrophe.
Also received were mailings from Marlboro and Camel cigarettes, which made more sense. It was estimated at the time that if a tobacco company could get a smoker to try a carton-and-a-half of a new brand, that person would become a customer.
Carnation and Gerber sent mailings to new mothers offering cents-off coupons for baby formula. Like cigarette mailings, if the customer (in this case, the baby) thrived on the product, brand loyalty would be created.
So, now Elva Lewis wants to take P&G swimming in these pirana-infested waters.
Advice to Ms. Lewis from this long-in-the-tooth marketer: Have one year’s living expenses in the bank and keep your résumé up-to-date.