How Advertisers Convinced Americans They Smelled Bad

And that’s when Young went radical, and in doing so launched his own fame. A door-to-door survey conducted by the advertising company had revealed that “every woman knew of Odorono and about one-third used the product. But two thirds felt they had no need for [it],” Sivulka says.

Young realized that improving sales wasn’t a simple matter of making potential customers aware that a remedy for perspiration existed. It was about convincing two-thirds of the target population that sweating was a serious embarrassment.

The advertisement goes on to explain that women may be stinky and offensive, and they might not even know it. The take-home message was clear: If you want to keep a man, you’d better not smell.

The advertisement caused shock waves in a 1919 society that still didn’t feel comfortable mentioning bodily fluids. Some 200 Ladies Home Journal readers were so insulted by the advertisement that they canceled their magazine subscription, Sivulka says.

In a memoir, Young notes that women in his social circle stopped speaking to him, while other JWT female copy writers told him “he had insulted every woman in America.” But the strategy worked. According to JWT archives, Odorono sales rose 112 percent to $417,000 in 1920, the following year.

via How Advertisers Convinced Americans They Smelled Bad | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine.

Max Payne and “know thy audience”

I saw Max Payne last night. Overall, it’s an okay movie. It wasn’t boring, it wasn’t slow, and we stayed entertained the whole time. Cool CGI and camera stuff also. But, there was too much that broke the suspension of disbelief for us. I mostly think it was the dialog and the fact that it was a video game movie.

A “video game movie” is one that’s clearly made for fans of the game. I think directors are still learning how to turn a video game into a good movie, in the same way that they have learned how to turn books into movies. If you ever want to talk about a video game movie, or movie production, I’m always interested in that stuff. But that’s not my point here.

Like I said, a video game movie is made for the fans. That is to say, other people who play video games. I’d say, based on my personal knowledge and experience, that video game fans (and are likely to go to a Max Payne movie), also tend to like the Mythbusters. I do.
In case you don’t accept that assumption, you should know that last week’s Mythbusters had a “special sneak preview” Max Payne trailer during the episode. I did not see this trailer advertised during other shows. Somehow Rachel Ray’s audience doesn’t seem like the Max Payne type. So, clearly the marketing staff for the movie and Discovery Channel agree that people who are watching Max Payne have probably seen a few Mythbusters episodes.

The reason I bring this up is because in one scene, Max is underwater in a river, and there are handguns being fired at him. He’s probably 10 feet under, and the bullets are whizzing by him. In fact, it’s the exact same situation that the Mythbusters tested several years ago, and busted. But it’s in this movie.

Now, despite having written several paragraphs about this, I swear I’m not a foaming-at-the-mouth movie nerd. I’m not going to scream about it not being realistic. It was a cool looking shot, and the movie was a good way to spend 90 minutes. But it was another moment where something in my brain was awkward moment that helped break the suspension of disbelief that movie makers try so hard to achieve.

I feel like there’s some Seth Godin-esque point to be made here. When you do something for an audience, be sure to think about their perspective.

The next Twitter.

I don’t know Twitter’s mission statement, but to me it seems like it should involve enabling stream-of-consciousness communication. When I look at heavy Twitter users (especially those with iPhones), it is close to stream-of-consciousness — it seems like they’re sending every other thought to Twitter. But it’s not stream-of-consciousness for most people, there’s too much overhead in posting to Twitter.

It seems to me that if Twitter had some spare cash, it would be wise to look into developing some more advanced technology. The iPhone is very close to wearable computing, but I’m sure there’s some clever ideas in the wearable computing area that could be adopted and branded by Twitter. There’s a great opportunity for them to pull a trick like Apple did with the iPhone, and bring this technology to mass-market in a nice slick package. It’s a natural extension of their current business, and it’s a technology that’s coming — a nice time to catch the wave.