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David Squires

Elite Marketers Wield Their Dark Powers



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Just started reading Martin Lindstrom’s 2011 New York Times best-seller BrandWashed, and it’s already chock full of disturbingly fascinating (or fascinatingly disturbing) revelations about the world’s elite marketers and the ways in which they wield their dark powers.

In his first chapter, Lindstrom presents evidence that brand preferences can begin being formed even in the womb, and that many of our life-long brand preferences are cemented in our minds by the age of seven.

&#8220 If all these behemoths are
targeting future customers,
it’s not the dumbest idea in the
world for you to start doing
the same in your market. &#8221

For these reason, marketers are seeking to influence us at ever-younger ages. A few interesting case studies cited in the pages of BrandWashed:


From 2007 to 2009, the percentage of girls between the ages of eight and 12 who regularly used mascara and eyeliner doubled. And marketers are even making progress in reaching the most inhospitable, notoriously resistant customer groups – namely, grooming and personal hygeine for pre-teenaged boys. (A company with the oh-so-appropriate name of Stinky Stink offers a line of body sprays that evokes the thoroughly adolescent odors of snowboard wax and rubber skateboard wheels.)

  • Gillette (the shaving folks) have determined that if a boy has used their razor twice, there is more than a 90 percent chance he will continue using the brand as an adult. That’s why they send out special “Welcome to Adulthood” packs to young men on their birthday or high school graduation.
  • And how many American teenagers, on the occasion of their 18th birthday, receive a special birthday gift from tobacco companies? (The one from Kool contains a cool silver box filled with cigarette coupons, as well as free CDs from hot bands.)
  • Even oil companies are targeting kids. Shell Oil has partnerered with Lego to use the Shell logo on Lego toys.

The point of all of this? If all these behemoths are targeting future customers, it’s not the dumbest idea in the world for you to start doing the same in your market.

You can start brainstorming on your own. Or, even better, come brainstorm with all of us and Martin Lindstrom himself at The SMART Show Chicago, coming April 13-15.

Martin will be part of the show’s “Masters of Marketing” series, which will also feature Carley Roney of The Knot, Lauren Freedman, and Jim Ackerman.

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