Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Incs think pink

Great minds may think alike, as the saying goes -- but they can certainly execute those ideas very differently.

Let's start with this vintage ad, touting the latest in porcelain enameled cookware. Guess what 1955's big selling point was:



It's "the year's most fashionable cookware color," the ad assures us, and I suppose, in its time, it was a welcome splash of color amidst the monochromatic choices of white enameled pots or black-with-white-flecks. Still, the creativity seemed to end on the manufacturing line. It's a rather drab ad for a color that's supposed generate new excitement in the housewares aisle. Gray is, in fact, a more prominent color here than pink.

As an unfair comparison, let's take a look at another pink-themed ad from roughly the same era (1961):



Pink air? Is Fina serious? Sort of.

Based on a news item that predicted service stations would one day offer tinted air for tires (as a competitive differentiator similar to adding additives to gasoline), Fina announced its intentions to be first on the bandwagon by offering Pink Air within 5 years -- half the time it was projected to be adopted by the industry at large.

It was the brainstorm of the advertising giant who's surprisingly little known today -- at least compared to David Ogilvy, Bill Bernbach and the like -- Howard Gossage of San Francisco's Howard Luck Gossage agency. As he explains in "The Book of Gossage,"
"Pink Air was one of those ideas that one simply accepts, knowing it will work but not knowing why. When we presented the campaign to our client, he looked at the big pink headline and said, "Good Lord!" I asked him, "Don't you want to run it?" He replied, "Sure I want to run it." "Why?" I asked. He thought for a moment, shook his head and said, "Beats me."
Every bit as fanciful as pink cookware (though far less functional), pink air was a parody of the "new, improved" school of marketing and, with a limited ad budget, created the identity and higher profile the company needed as it expanded its territory from Texas upwards to Minnesota.

(And in case you're wondering, apparently, pink air finally did arrive at FINA stations in 1966 -- right on schedule.)

You can see a few more "pink air" ads and hear Howard Gossage explain his reasoning for the campaign here.

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