Friday, 19 November 2010

Joe Camel and the Ideal Self.

The 11th of July 1997 Joe Camel died.
One of the most controversial characters in advertising history was no more.
It was a great victory by social advocacy groups in the war on tobacco and teenage smoking.

Despite of his dubious morality, Joe has been an extremely succesful advertising character, responsible for trasforming the old fashioned Camel cigarettes in modern and cool brand.

Joe Camel first appeared in the U.S in 1988, in materials created for the 75th anniversary of the Camel brand by Trone Advertising.
From an advertising perspective, Joe was a perfect ‘conveyor’.
He's a cool character: he drives luxury cars, rides powerful motorbikes and is succesful with girls.
Therefore he became a model for young people.

Why Joe was so successful?

The main reason is the Self-concept.
"The self-concept refers to the believes a person holds about their attributes" (Solomon et al, 2010).

One of the main components of self-concept is self-esteem which refers to the positivity of a person self concept.

The Joe Camel campaign influenced the level of self-esteem of young people triggering a process of social comparison; hence they tended to evaluate theirself in comparison to Joe.

Young people smoke for emotional reasons and cigarettes can meet these needs by being aspirational and acting as a bridge, filling the gap between actual self and ideal self.

Adolescents perceive smokers to be different from nonsmokers. For example, peer smokers are described as tougher and more interested in the opposite sex (Chang, 2007).
Camel marketing suggested that smoking can help meet these needs of self-fulfilment.

Evans and colleagues of the U.S. National Cancer Institute surveyed 3,536 California never smokers aged 12 to 17 years.
60.5% of those aged 12 to13 years, 69.2% of those aged 14 to 15, and 72.9% of those aged 16 to 17, perceived that cigarette advertisements claimed smoking would help them feel comfortable in social situations.

Of course Camel was not the only cigarettes brand to rely on customer's ideal self.
This Marlboro ad conveys the message of masculinity related to smoking.

Capri cigarettes, another brand manufactured by R.J. Reynolds as Camel, was specifically marketed towards women as a way to increase their sex appeal.
Marketers used images of young, beautiful and sophisticated women to convey a message of femininity related to Capri cigarettes.


In conclusion i must tell you don't smoke or you will come to the same bad end of Joe Camel:

See you soon Hitchhikers and...keep on feeding your Babelfish!


> Chang, C. (2007) Ideal Self-Image Congruency as a Motivator for Smoking: The Moderating Effects of Personality Traits. Health Communication, vol.22, 1
> Solomon, M., Bamossy, G., Askegaard, S. and Hogg, M. (2010) Consumer Behaviour: a european perspective. 4th ed. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Gestalt psychology: a powerful advertising tool.

If you think that the whole is just the sum of its parts, my friend, your're wrong!

We do not experience the parts of our environment separately; we try to organize those parts into a meaningful whole. Further, we want things and events to make sense in terms of what we already know.
According to Dr. Beau Lotto of the Institute of Oftalmology, only 10% of what we see comes from our eyes, the remaining part comes from our brain (Horizon, 2010).

The italian painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo was a forerunner of the application of these theories in the field of figurative art.

Arcimboldo painted this "portrait of Rudolf II as Vertumnus" in 1590.

During that historical period the cornerstone of Western culture was rationality.
Rationality was based on the law of non-contadiction: something either is or is not.

Arcimboldo suggested that a thing is more than we perceive and understand, and the perception of a thing is subjective.
Is this a man or a mass of vegetables?

Gestalt theory
More than 3 centuries later, in 1912, some researchers of the Berlin School of psychology stated that "human beings perceive within an environment according to all of its elements taken together as a global construct". This theory is known as Gestalt psycology (Arnheim, 1974).

The fundamental principle of gestalt perception is the law of pr├Ągnanz (German for pithiness).
In a nutshell, the Law of Pr├Ągnanz says that when confronted with visual information, people will attempt to organize that information into the simplest form possible. People will mentally process the visual information to create a mental image that:
  • is symmetrical
  • contains the simplest shapes possible
  • contains the fewest number of shapes
Thats the reason why people perceive a plateau on Mars as a face.

Gestalt today
During the last years the Gestalt theory has been applied to promotional communications.
Gestalt elements in a film poster stand out and are remembered over time.

Gestalt Advertising

MOLSON True Canadian Taste campaign (july 2007)

The marketers of ZIG advertising agency took advantage of gestalt psychology creating amazing landscapes with thousands of beer glasses and bottles.

The sum of the parts (the bottles) is perceived by the watcher as a wild canadian landscape. As a result the ad conveys the message that Molson Canadian is a pure and refreshing beer made following the tradition of national breweries history.

In conclusion i can state that the application of gestalt theories is a mighty weapon in the hands of marketers.

See you soon and...don't forget your towel!


>Horizon (2010), television program, BBC two, London, 18 october.
>Arnheim, R. (1974) Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye. University of California Press.