There's a lot of fun stuff here, but there are two themes I want to focus on for today's conversation specifically—reframing value props and the importance of living by your brand values.
1. Reframing Value Props (even negatively perceived ones) into powerful differentiators
Light Beer existed for a decade or so without becoming a mainstream sensation because it was seen as an inferior product—something that women and men (whose doctors and wives had them on a diet) drank. A true blue collar guy (this was the 70's, relax people) wouldn’t be caught dead with the stuff.
That is until some smart marketing folks at Miller Brewing discovered an interesting consumer insight. Some men were drinking Light beer not because they were worried about their health (or, presumably, their glorious 1970’s dad bods), but because it tasted about as good as “regular” beer, but was less filling. So they could drink more of it.
This subtle shift—this alchemy—completely recasts the exact same product as not a drink for women and dieters, but for "real" men who want to drink more beer after a long day at work.
Folks who study advertising history will recall a number of these reframing feats from the past, like Guinness’ Good things come to those who wait, or Hertz’s We're #2 so we try harder.
Or even the perniciously powerful Marlboro Man campaign. Historically marketed as a women’s cigarette brand, Marlboro embraced the image of a stoic cowboy fending for himself out in the West (Flavor Country?) to capture the hearts of millions of male consumers who had returned home from war only to find themselves stifled by 1950’s office life. Gross and cynical? Yes. Effective and powerful? Very.
Quick aside here: this is also the quintessential examples of why Categorical Differentiation is so powerful. In doing this, Miller Brewing single handedly defined, and owned, the Light beer category for decades.