guru, Philip Kotler has remarked that ‘even… a good product… cannot be
sold unless and until you have an efficient marketing strategy’.
Advertising emerged as the most powerful tool of marketing in the
twentieth century so much so that as early as 1915, ‘Printer’s Ink’
remarked, “When the historian of the Twentieth Century shall have finished
his narrative, and comes to searching for the subtitle which shall best
express the spirit of the period, we think it not at all unlikely that he
may select “The Age of Advertising” for the purpose.”
But these early advertisements, more than
merely advertising products, convey stories about the company and its
customers as well. In any case, advertisements are not just about the
products they wish to sell, but they are, in the words of Communications
Theorist, Marshall McLuhan, “the richest and most faithful reflections any
society ever made of its whole range of activities.” Advertisements
communicate not only the features of the product but also the values that
the manufacturing company believes in; they reflect the social and
economic patterns of the society within which they operate. As a matter of
fact, today, historians often use them as supplementary sources of
Besides, this advertisement has much
deeper significance. ‘Godrej’ was emerging as a trust worthy brand during
this period, for even the Queen (wife of King George V) used a Godrej safe
during her visit to India in 1911. That apart, the Mint, Currency Office,
Public Works Office, Improvement Trust, High Court, Secretariat, Port
Trust, General Post Office, Railways, Jewellers, Banks and other leading
commercial firms in Bombay all used safes manufactured by Godrej.
A few pages back in history and you will come across the famous Schlitz Beer Story. Claude Hopkins (1866-1932), a marketing specialist of his time, was called to help Schlitz beer to increase its market share. At this time each beer manufacturer claimed to manufacture ‘pure beer’. Claude was shown the beer making process at the Schlitz manufacturing plant. He was fascinated to witness, for the first time, the amount of work involved in these processes for ensuring quality standards. There was nothing unique about Schlitz process, as every beer manufacturer essentially made beer in the same way but Claude created an advertising campaign explaining the process of making a pure beer. The advertisement, “Perfection of 50 years”, appeared in the year 1898. By being first to explain the process, Schiltz claimed a preemptive marketing advantage over its competitors.
Needless to say, the Claude Hopkins campaign won Schlitz new customers. In ‘My Life in Advertising’, he wrote, “Perhaps, countless people can make similar products. But tell the pains you take to excel. Tell factors and features which others deem too commonplace to claim. Your product will come to typify those excellencies. If others claim them afterward, it will only serve to advertise you.”
How interesting that, great
men think alike! By explaining to people how to make a pure vegetable
soap, Ardeshir endorsed his authority over the product. The only
difference between the Schlitz Beer story and Ardeshir’s soap story was
that, in Ardeshir’s case, even the product was unique, since he had indeed
pioneered the manufacture of soap using vegetable oil.
Advertising has come a long
way since then. It has now become extremely dynamic and more advanced,
with the advent of new modes of communication. However, the importance of
these early advertisements cannot be overlooked as these are the ones
responsible for initiating brand building process that made ‘Godrej’ a
trusted household name.