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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thursday's Psychology Trivia Answer: Beer, Coke, Burma Shave & Free Offers



Thought for the Day: As a psychologist, I never thought I would be writing about beer, Coca Cola or Burma Shave advertising on my blog, but here goes! The last thing I want to promote since I help people recover from alcoholism is a beer company. However, the answer to the trivia question,
"Was Burma Shave, Coca Cola or the Anheuser Busch the 1st company to use free giveaways to promote their products?" is Anheuser Busch. Adolphus Busch was a savvy marketer who began giveaways in the 1880's. Technically speaking however, Coca Cola may have been the 1st to give coupons for sample tastings of their new product around 1893.

Burma Shave 's sign campaign came much later; however, you may enjoy the story of how they made good on their promise to send a fan to Mars when they turned in 900 empty jars of Burma Shave. I promise I will not make Burma Shave's mistake & offer you something that I will have difficulty proviing. I know my book will live up to all of your expectations. So get ready for the opportunity to grab a copy of my e-Book version of The Wake Up and Dream Challenge soon!


Here's the history of free giveaway campaigns:
According to Wikipedia, Anheuser Busch was the 1st to use a giveaway campaign starting in the 1880's & early 1890s, "Busch introduced a series of advertisements & marketing giveaways for the company, including bottle openers, calendars, corkscrews, pocketknives, postcards, & prints.[16]  Adolphus Busch pioneered the advertising technique known as the giveaway – inexpensive items like match safes or cork pulls that featured the Anheuser-Busch name or logo. The most well-known piece, the pocketknife, was used by Adolphus in place of a calling card and featured a peephole with his portrait."

Coca Cola which was 1st created in 1887 may have been the first to use couponing to give people free samples of the beverage. On a post of the Coca Cola Timeline, these promotions somewhere between 1893 & 1904. Coupons were considered an innovative tactic back then. The couponing was followed by newspaper ads & the distribution of promotional items bearing the Coca-Cola script to participating pharmacies.
 The first Burma Shave signs were put up in 1925. They remained as American landmarks until about 1963. Originally the signs did not rhyme, but were made up of four signs, each said something about the product. Travelers began requesting for the product after seeing the funny lines on the road. Sales went through the roof, & signs spread from Minnesota to the surrounding states. The company was virtually unaffected by the Great Depression due to their uplifting advertisements! 

They were not the first to make free offers, however, the sign I remember most from when I was a child was: "Free Free, a Trip to Mars, With 900, Empty Jars of BurmaShave." In a great article called, How Burma Shave Sent Frenchie to Mars,  by Cory Doctorow, I learned that this jingle was first posted in 1958. Burma Shave never expected anyone to take them seriously & send in 900 jars, but one creative druggist took them up on the offer. To collect the jars, he placed an ad & offered to pay $ 0.15 per jar (see ad below) & collected 900 jars. Imagine the reaction when he wrote to Burma Shave & asked them where to send the jars!! Burma Shave quickly found a solution to the embarrassing dilemma. Since they could not send him to Mars, they offered to send him to Moers (pronounced Mars) Germany if he would wear a space suit. He agreed & went to Mars!
I hope you liked this journey down the trivia of the psychology of advertising lane.


Photo credits:
Send Frenchie to Mars: http://boingboing.net/2010/07/21/how-burma-shave-sent.html

Wikipedia Commons
Anheuser busch Logo: A&Eagle.png
Early Coca Cola ad:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Cocacola-5cents-1900_edit1.jpg 
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