Re-branding the Potato

How is it that more often than not we find ourselves facing the biggest challenge of human kind: doing the one thing we were specifically asked not to?

We ask our children not to wonder around the drain, yet the next thing you see is a key stuck into that “adventurous” drain. With every episode Dexter gives Dee Dee exact data about how harmful pushing the red button would be, only to see a lab on fire shortly after the instructive training. Not to mention that each of these situations go back to one biblical sin: eating the forbidden apple. So, Eve, might I ask, was it worthy?

Now, who is to say that doing the opposite thing than the one we are expected to is so outrageous? Not advertisers, nor marketers, that’s for sure. Somehow, these creative minds have found a way to turn this issue to their own advantage. Nowadays they don’t tell people to just buy something anymore. Instead, they advise them not to, also giving them reasons for that action. The next thing you know is that their turnover is higher than the earth’s population.

Finding the right message to advertise a product has been a mystery for those who didn’t know that the answer was hidden in the 18th century Prussia. Prussians were reluctant to the usage of potato since it had neither smell, nor taste. So, how do you assign value to a vegetable that bland? In addition, Frederick the Great decided to make the potato a royal vegetable to be only consumed by the crowned ones. Thus, he ordered for the royal field to be planted with potatoes and asked the guards to guard the field (but not to well!). The potato became so popular that peasants would even steal from the king’s garden. This was, as Rory Sutherland puts it, the successful re-branding of the potato.

So now, when we look back, doing the things we were told not to is not so bad anymore, only as long as you benefit from it rather than harm yourself.

See: Life Lessons from an Ad Man

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