Thursday, October 31, 2013

Advertising the ACA During the First 31 Days: “Bandwagon in Reverse”?

If one recalls, proponents of ACA, mostly using other people’s money, decided upon a media blitz to promote Obamacare (ACA) with particular focus upon the unveiling of the insurance exchange aspect.

If one promotes and decides upon a media blitz, one has to buy advertising space ahead of time, one has to test advertisements, produce video, re-produce video, prepare fliers, etc. and basically consider content of all sorts and variety and commit to advertising type, kind, quality and quantity far ahead of time. Once one’s media blitz is compiled the blitz is unleashed on a specific day to coincide with the event promoted. Such media blitz is concentrated, repeated and coordinates between media.

What if one’s product is a smashing failure? One is stuck with the advanced marketing and purchased media spots. Is one then advertising a loser? Are you increasing the failure, via word of mouth, as an unintended media consequence? Word of mouth is a very powerful advertising media.

Focusing on the marketing/advertising, is there another such case one can point to of a product being a smashing failure and the associated media blitz increasing the failure? Can big promotion, subsequent failure, and word of mouth, cause an item to fail quicker?

‘In November 1956, Ford settled on a name for its new line of mid-priced automobiles: It would be called the Edsel, after the son of the firm’s founder. Launched the following September, the Edsel was an utter flop, and has since become an exemplar of a product gone wrong, of how seemingly omnipotent firms and advertisers can be laid low by grass-roots consumer antipathy.

“Documents held by the Hagley Library help make sense of the Edsel debacle. Two months after the Edsel’s launch, Ford hired Ernest Dichter, then the nation’s leading market-research analyst, to help the company determine how to increase sales. Dichter's frank assessment, laying out the extent of the Edsel’s troubles, offered only a few glimmers of hope for the company.

“The Edsel, he bluntly told Ford, suffered from "a bandwagon in reverse" with a "quite negative” word-of-mouth campaign. Edsel owners seemed not only unenthusiastic but even embarrassed by their choice. "I guess I just don’t talk about my cars much," one told Dichter, but "it seems I talk even less since I got an Edsel." Another complained that if he told others about buying an Edsel, "they make a wisecrack and that’s it."

Non-owners adamantly didn't want one. "I sure wouldn’t want to own a car that would make a freak out of me," one explained. "You see an Edsel and you see everyone turn around and look at it as though it was a monster of some kind." ‘ (1)

“One of the biggest problems with the Edsel was that it was competing against itself, matching retail value on many of the cars in Ford’s established Mercury line without bringing anything new to the table. Another problem was the economic recession of 1957. And still another was the fact that it was a jumble of both Ford and Mercury parts with zero quality control since there was no separate Edsel manufacturing facility. This lead to a number of mechanical issues that killed demand.” (2)

“The Edsel is most notorious for being a marketing disaster. Indeed, the name "Edsel" became synonymous with the "real-life" commercial failure of the predicted "perfect" product or product idea. Similar ill-fated products have often been colloquially referred to as "Edsels". Since the Edsel program was such a debacle, it gave marketers a vivid illustration of how not to market a product. The principal reason the Edsel's failure is so infamous is that Ford had absolutely no idea that the failure was going to happen until after the vehicles had been designed and built, the dealerships established and $400 million invested in the product's development and launch. Incredibly, Ford had presumed to invest $400 million (well over $4.0 billion in the 21st century) in developing a new product line without attempting to determine whether such an investment would be wise or prudent.

The prerelease advertising campaign promoted the car as having "more YOU ideas", and the teaser advertisements in magazines only revealed glimpses of the car through a highly blurred lens or wrapped in paper or under tarps. In fact, Ford had never “test marketed” the vehicle or its unique styling concepts with potential, “real” buyers prior to either the vehicle’s initial development decision or the vehicle’s shipments to its new dealerships. Edsels were shipped to the dealerships undercover and remained wrapped on the dealer lots.” (3)




(1) Commemorating the Ford Edsel’s Historically Bad Launch: Echoes, Bloomberg, 11/29/2011


(2) 15 Worst Marketing Blunders of All-Time, US Data Corporation, 08/15/2011


(3) Edsel and its failures, Wikipedia

1 comment:

  1. i like your article. It's awesome.