Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Greatest Marketing Geniuses of All Time

I came across an interesting article today that talked about the Greatest Marketing Geniuses of All Time, written by the CBS Interactive Business Network. I find this article particularly interesting as it touches on such topics as the original creator of viral marketing,  the invention of broadcast advertising, and celebrity endorsement just to name a few. This article highlights the different men and women who have changed the marketing and advertising industry throughout history.

1.        John R. Brinkley, Inventor of Broadcast Advertising

After learning of the powers radio held for marketing and advertising, Brinkley built his own radio station at the age of 38 in an effort to bring awareness to male impotence. Brinkley used his radio station as a hub for entertainment, bible readings and showcasing the latest country music acts during his time. It’s hard to believe that at one point in time, radio stations were more of a cultural asset, free of commercials. 

Brinkley was best known as a controversial American medical doctor who experimented with xenotransplatation of goat glands into humans in an effort to cure male impotence in clinics across several states. He utilized his new radio station as a means of advertising his research and finding, even though during those times advertising on public airwaves was very much discouraged.

2.       Mary Kay, Innovator of Network Marketing

Although network marketing has been around for several decades, many older companies like Amway and Wachters failed to achieve the level of network marketing concepts as Mary Kay had during the 1960’s. Mary Kay became an integral part of American middle class culture with her network marketing concepts of recruiting agents to distribute goods and services, while also encouraging sales agents to build and manage their own sales force.

Mary Kay’s business strategies were called brilliant moves, as during that time she tapped into a relatively underutilized workforce: housewives. These were women who were not looking for a traditional 9 -5 office job, but were looking for something with more of an intrinsic reward.  As an incentive, Mary Key awarded top sellers with a pink Cadillac for their efforts, transforming her sales force into mobile billboards.

3.       Andre Citroen, Inventor of the Electric Billboard

Citroen, founder of Citroen automobile firm, was something of a great marketing genius for him time. He was one of the first auto manufactures to sponsor car races, while also boasting to tourist about his manufacturing plant being “the most beautiful in Europe.”

Citroen was best known for renting the Eiffel Tower in 1925 in an effort to promote the Citroen brand name. The Eiffel Tower was lit up with 125,000 incandescent lights, and remained in place for 9 years until Citroen went bankrupt. It has been speculated that the bankruptcy was partly due to the incredibly high electricity bills incurred from advertisement on the Eiffel Tower.

4.       Conrad Gessner, Inventor of Viral Marketing

Viral Marketing is often misinterpreted as an Internet phenomenon, but it’s actually far older. Some scholars believe this phenomenon began as far back as 1559, when the Swiss naturalist Conrad Gessner waxed lyrical about the beauties of the tulip, as it was a flower not well known to Europeans. Scholars noted that in 1634 his remarks were eventually spawned into what’s now known as “Tulipmaina.” During this tulip craze, some bulbs were noted to have been sold for the contemporary equivalent of several million dollars.

During this time, it was also rumored that a tulip fancier actually murdered his servant for eating a particularly prized bulb, believing it to be an onion.

5.        James Bell, Inventor of the Ad Jingle

During Christmas of 1926, radio listeners were treated to a new song “Have you tried wheaties,” sung by four males who were known only as the Wheaties Quartet. After the song aired on the radio, product sales with the regions where the song was played spiked, causing James Bell, CEO of Washburn Crosby Company to establish his jingle as a national campaign. As a result of his efforts, Wheaties quickly became one of the world’s most popular breakfast cereals during that time.

To read more about the Greatest Marketing Geniuses of All Time click here

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