By Dean L. Jones, C.P.M.
In the 1880’s, there were parts of the USA that blocked selling ice cream sodas on Sunday. A majority of people felt that these drinks were ‘impious’ (lacking reverence or respect, especially towards a god) and should not be enjoyed on this holy day. Since ice cream soda shops did not want to miss out on a whole day of business, they invented a treat that could be enjoyed on this day of the week. Accordingly, businesses invented the sundae (instead of Sunday), essentially just an ice cream soda without the soda (ice cream & chocolate sauce).
Comparatively, our culture’s conservatism for recognizing a holy day exist more in the mind than by our actions. Our society at-large barely acknowledges and recognizes reverence to God on one day of the week. For instance, the National College Athletic Association used to prohibit the competitive playing of collegiate sports on Sunday to acknowledge reverence. However, somewhere that changed where recently college basketball hoops are an outward exploitation of competition on Sunday, complete with televised soda commercials.
If sugary-filled sodas had an ounce of good for the body, then I would not bring this up, but since these drinks are nothing more than liquid candy, a recent product advertisement campaign really got me thinking. The Coca-Cola Company started a new product promotion at the National University of Singapore with a vending machine that has large lettering on the outside reading “Hug Me”. If you hug the machine, instead of putting money in, you get a free coke.
Coke is known for innovative marketing and is the largest global brand for aggressive advertising campaigns. On the other hand, pushing a product with the addictive allure that is proven with processed sugar is reminiscent of another industry that got people hooked from free product giveaways. Where similarly, tobacco manufacturers gave away countless free cigarettes on college campuses and other places where young people gather.
The hug me ad campaign takes advantage of the processed sugar ingredient and has nothing to do with showing their appreciation for being a customer. Saying thank you is giving stock options in the company that pays multi-millions of dollars in stockholder dividends. Even if, this ad campaign never hits the USA, consumers should remain alert to Trojan horse gimmicks. Stay sugar alert, because giving a machine a hug and a chug of their soda, an army of potential health problems are released into the body.
Alternatively to chugging a coke, use it to remove grease from clothes, as a can of Coca-Cola poured into the load of greasy clothes through a regular wash cycle with your favorite detergent will help loosen grease stains. Or, to loosen a rusted bolt, apply a cloth soaked in Coca-Cola to the rusted bolt for several minutes and it will turn.
Mr. Jones is a marketing strategist with the Southland Partnership Corporation (a public benefit organization), sharing his view on mismanagement practices of packaged foods & beverages.