Big Tobacco Marketing Sugary Drinks to Kids Is Why Today’s Brands Need Transparency
It took a court settlement before Big Tobacco released its internal marketing methods for advertising sugary drinks to kids, but today's brands need transparency so that never happens again. Don’t just take my word for it — stay tuned tomorrow to read Shiv Gupta’s take on how brand trust is at an all-time low in America.
In “How Big Tobacco Hooked Children on Sugary Drinks,” Andrew Jacobs writes on Thursday in the New York Times that when Big Tobacco began losing profits by not being allowed to market to kids, it turned its vast marketing power to creating a revenue stream from getting children to ingest sugary drinks.
“Using child-tested flavors, cartoon characters, branded toys and millions of dollars in advertising, the companies cultivated loyalty to sugar-laden products that health experts said had greatly contributed to the nation’s obesity crisis.”
Lifetime Value Is Different Now
Lifetime value is about values. Target Marketing bloggers Gupta and Jeanette McMurtry point out that it’s important for consumers to trust brands before they’ll buy from them. McMurtry and Target Marketing blogger Summer Gould emphasize that Millennials want to buy from brands that align with their values and those values include doing good in the world.
Jacobs writes that Big Tobacco’s marketing of sugary drinks contributed to childhood obesity and the rise of Type 2 diabetes. The article states:
“Experts said tobacco executives had a keen appreciation for the importance of earning customer loyalty at an early age. Jennifer Harris, who studies corporate marketing at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, said introducing sweetened beverages to young children can have lifelong implications.
“ ‘If a kid gets used to drinking Kool-Aid instead of water, they are always going to prefer a sugary beverage,’ said Ms. Harris, who was not involved in the study. ‘And the advertising creates positive associations with these products in the minds of children.’ ”
In the Age of Brand Partnerships, Be Careful
While it may seem extreme to think of anything brands do today as being similar to physicians endorsing Big Tobacco’s products, they may be surprised. Marketers thinking they’ve done their due diligence in investigating companies before partnering with them may want to think of this anecdote from Jacobs:
“[After obtaining Tang in 1996, Philip Morris] unleashed a wave of television ads that positioned Tang as an ‘extreme orange breakfast drink for today’s extreme tweens.’ The ads featured orangutans on motorcycles and sleepy teens zapped awake by a glass of sugary Tang. The company forged marketing arrangements with Sports Illustrated and Schwinn bicycles and created a loyalty program to rival the Wacky Warehouse.”
Those partners, Sports Illustrated and Schwinn, were strongly trusted health-related brands. And the Wacky Warehouse was a loyalty program for smokers that allowed customers to win items like camping gear.
If Consumers Trust Your Brand, It’ll Show Up in the Reviews
At this point, consumers who imbibe sugary drinks know that’s what they’re doing — the transparency is there, even if the brand isn’t being authentic. Consumers know, because they talk to each other.
Before they become customers, they research the brands.
Brand trust evolves into what Target Marketing blogger Chris Foster described as an emotional association.
He writes in October 2018:
“The best brands have a clearly defined personality that is specific in their emotional response they want to draw out of their customers. There’s a strong connection between how the brand makes them feel, and what the brand wants them to feel. Brands are like people, and have personalities.
“When you evaluate people, you have an expectation of how they should act, behave, speak, dress, and generally interact with others. You trust a person to know who they are, and who they’re not. And, I bet you could use five words that describe how some people make you feel.”
If you go by the customer reviews on Amazon, for instance, “love” is the most common word associated with Tang. So the customers know what they’re getting and they still love it.
There's a way to be authentic and still gain brand trust with a product or service that may not be perfect.
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
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