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When Promotion Becomes Product

There have been some happy accidents in the field of marketing where marketers have been caught off guard and Couldn’t predict Customer behavior in the slightest. I submit to you, through this article, a series of stories (which may or may not be true, I’ll let you be the judge of that) which demonstrate how in the pages of history, Few brands’ opportunisms ended with them achieving accidental success.

Story 1: Michelin Tyres

So let’s begin The Curious case of two Tyre Brothers. Let’s start right at the beginning. It may seem obvious, but sometimes we forget that all adventures start off somewhere, and not always in the way we had imagined. This is a story of two brothers, Andre and Eduardo Michelin, who founded a Tyre Company in 1889 in Clermont-Ferrand, France. Clermont is an enriching place to explore in the region of french Alpen.

At the time France’s Automotive industry was in full swing and motorists were ready to Travel the country roads Even though there were only 2200 cars in all of France and Gasoline had to be purchased at pharmacies. The Story of Michelin and Clermont-Ferrand is Closely Tied, so strap in.

Determined to change the status of Vehicle from a Luxury or a Novelty to an actual mode of long-distance transportation, The company decided to release a publication, a country-wide guide for travelers that contains maps, tips to change a flat tyre, places to take a rest, and most importantly a section for Establishments for eating and relaxing. hoping travelers would follow the guide and burn out their tyres and buy more. Cha-Ching!!

Little did they know, the Guide Would do more than save their ailing business but would become as some say “The bible of all Dining Guides”.

It became so popular that it compelled the brothers to start charging for it. Today, it is in 25 countries across four continents and still expanding, To tell you how relevant it still is in the minds of People, UK chef Andrew Wong compared getting a Michelin star to getting married, Moreover, Famous Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsey Claimed to have wept when one of his restaurants couldn’t retain its two-star rating. A Clermont based blogger wrote, “Sometimes people make fun of Clermont-Ferrand by calling it tyre town but it’s more than that it’s a unique history and a success story, likes of which we just don’t see any more”.

That was the story of a Publication that Made a Tyre Company The World's Finest Dining Authority. More about the History of Michelin on Cavesocial.

Story 2: Avon

The BookSeller who sold Empowerment. We hate to admit it, but Entering the corporate world as a woman even today can prove tricky. Let’s rewind the clocks a bit shall we? The year was 1886 that is 34 years before women had the right to vote and the idea of a woman making real income was unheard of. Back then, David McConnel, an unsuccessful traveling Salesman was selling books door to door for a publishing company. With very limited advertising channels available David used the common sales incentive and that was providing a Free Gift.

The gift would be offered to the door-opener in exchange for the customer’s moment. A lot of McConnell’s customers were housewives who were home alone as their husbands were away to work. This Inspired McConnell to develop a women-centric gift in hopes of increasing his book sales.

He then began offering strips of a page soaked in rose-scented perfume as a gift in exchange for their willingness to hear his book pitch. Sounds good, right? Not exactly. There was one problem - Women were getting more interested in free perfume samples than books McConnell was selling.

The perfume soon became so popular that McConnell had to embrace his fate and ditch the book business to sell perfumes.

He launched numerous fragrances under the California perfume company( the company changed its name to Avon after the birthplace of McConnell’s favorite playwright-Shakespear). McConnell realized that the best way to market his products to ladies was to hire ladies to sell them, as women have a natural ability to network with other women. He decided to train a fleet of women salespeople and hence Avon-lady was born. Avon’s unique approach to selling cosmetics allowed the brand to stand out for over a century. In 1972 Avon sales reached an impressive 1 billion and Avon was one of the first cosmetics companies to have achieved this. Today Avon has become more than just a small new york-based perfume company to a multi-billion beauty giant empowering women around the globe at this very moment. More about the History of Avon.

Story 3: The Tale of a Chewing Gum-ption.

There is two types of people in the world - lucky people and others who get Carsick on their first date.

You decide which category our story protagonist lies in. In 1891, a 29-year old William Wrigley Jr. came to Chicago from Philadelphia with 32 dollars in his pocket and with an idea of selling Scouring Soaps. To provide a premium to his customers, he started offering Baking Powder as an incentive for his soap. After a little while, Wrigley found that the baking powder was more popular than his soap. Being a savvy businessman he is.

He shifted to selling Baking Powder and again as a promotional tool started giving out a free gift, this time gift was two packs of gum.

Guess What? Once Again the Chewing Gum became more popular than Baking Powder! What are the odds? quite low.

In 1892, Wrigley’s launched Juicy Fruit Gum, and A few months after the company officially launched Juicy Fruit, it launched the Wrigley's Spearmint gum that's still in vending machines and on grocery store counters.

In 1907 American bankers’ panic, Sales of Chewing gum, which was bought by the consumer impulsively, was getting slimmer. Wrigley saw this as an opportunity instead of a threat and Mortgaged everything he owned and bought nearly $2,50,000 worth of Advertising.

It was as unexpected for the competitors as it was for the public as a result Wrigley’s Sales reached sky-high and Wrigley became a national name.

In nearly three years, the company went from $ 1,70,000 in sales to the north of $3 million.

With over 110 years of success under its name, Wrigley Jr. Company is currently the largest chewing gum manufacturer in the world. Wrigley leads the gum industry with famous brands, including Juicy Fruit, Doublemint, Big Red, and Spearmint gum. More about the history of Wrigleys.


These ingenious strategies that turned out to be more than just marketing moves goes on to speak volumes on how unpredictable yet exciting consumer behavior can turn out to be!

Nonetheless, while designing a campaign or a strategy, marketers should keep an open mind to other aspects as well, rather than just focusing on driving revenue/traffic. Marketers need to look beyond just amping up their Profit and Loss statement. Ingenious marketing strategies tend to be game-changers in the way that their marketing strategy itself solves a problem!

These three Stories only go to demonstrate that your Product matters. The end-user cares about the product they are receiving, doesn't matter if it's the main product or a freebie. Marketers should keep an eye not just forward but also sideways when it comes to formulating Marketing strategies. Another lesson - Don’t be afraid of change. Sometimes it only takes a fluke for a mediocre to become successful, and fluke is one of the most common fish in the sea, so if you go fishing for fluke chances are you are going to catch one.

Author: Daksh Kumar

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