I used to think marketing was evil.
And I used to think it was pointless — just another way for faceless corporations to manipulate innocent people.
But now more than ever, I’m convinced marketing works. For good and for evil.
Take Coke Zero for example.
I have never, ever, ever enjoyed diet drinks. Not ever. But I love Coke Zero. I drink it all the time.
When I was a chubby teenager, I used to drink cheap, sugary soda, but when I decided to start running and shed some weight, I stopped drinking it.
A few years ago, I started having a Coke or Dr. Pepper once in awhile. But I was still conscious of too much soda intake.
Then, Coke Zero came along.
Now, I can’t go on a road trip without stopping to get a bottle (or two or three) from the gas station. Next time I have to go to the hospital, I’m going to ask the nurse to fill my IV with it. (This isn’t a sponsored post, but it should be.)
If I’m honest, I drink Coke Zero for the same reason I use any product: it makes me feel good.
Why Coke Zero?
Here’s why I feel good about every bottle (or can) of Coke Zero I buy:
1. They told me it would taste good (and it did)
The commercials and advertising promised this would taste just like Coke. In fact, the bottle says on the label, “REAL Coca-Cola TASTE.” That’s why I tried it.
Sure, it doesn’t taste exactly like Coca-Cola Classic, but it was close enough. More importantly, it didn’t have that unforgettable sweet taste of Diet Coke. Yech.
I continue to drink it, because I felt they delivered on what they promised. As with anything in life, integrity matters… especially in marketing.
2. It’s guilt-free
Zero calories. That means I can drink it all day long and not feel bad.
Sure, it has lots of sodium and will rot my teeth, and blah, blah, blah. But mostly, I’m just worried about trying to get in shape and not making choices that will make me fatter.
So it works. (And all hyperbole aside, I don’t drink it excessively.)
3. It looks cool
Let’s face it: Most diet drinks look as artificial as they taste. They look generic. Boring.
But Coke Zero looks cool. Therefore, it is cool.
The black, red, and white color scheme give it an edge that makes you feel like you’re consuming a real beverage, not just a knock-off of something better.
In fact, I read somewhere that Coke Zero was designed and marketed to specifically reach adult males. Well, it worked. They got me.
I know this might come off of as sounding superficial, but I’m telling you: Marketing matters.
We believe what we read and hear — at least for a while. Marketing messages enter our brains and bounce around until we have an experience with the product that seems to contradict the impression.
At that point, the rubber meets the road.
At that point, we find out whether the marketing was good or evil.
Marketing can be as bad or as good as the motives of the people behind the product and promotion.
Marketing can be good…
…If it helps you enjoy something that delivers on a promise.
For instance, the cool packaging, witty advertising, and Coke Rewards program (which you get with any Coca-Cola product) all make me feel better about buying Coke Zero.
I’m constantly reminded that this tastes great, looks good, and is guilt-free. Win. Win. Win.
Marketing can be evil…
…When advertisers use it to manipulate consumers, tricking them into buying something they never wanted.
If you’re a communicator, you can go the route of many predecessors who have given marketing a bad name. You can give in to that sleazy, profiteering stereotype. You can even be successful at it (for a while).
Or you can take the road less traveled by under-promising, over-delivering, and re-assuring your customers that they made the right choice.
Do you think marketing is evil? Or does it serve a purpose?