40 Bizarre Yet Fascinating Ad and Marketing Campaigns

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About hundred years ago Listerine was marketed and used as a floor cleaner and a cure for gonorrhea. It wasn't until the 1920s, when it was pitched as a solution for “chronic halitosis”—an obscure medical term for bad breath, which wasn't considered an issue until then—that it became a huge success.

27. In the 1990s, Subaru realized that it was surprisingly popular with lesbians, and decided to develop a campaign subtly, but specifically, targeting that core group, helping to push gay and lesbian advertising from the fringes to the mainstream.

28. The Energizer Bunny ad campaign did not lead to increased sales. In fact, Energizer's sales fell. It is speculated consumers associated the bunny with Duracell batteries and purchased them instead.

29. Botto Bistro, an Italian restaurant in San Francisco, started a campaign "Hate us on Yelp" to become the worst-rated restaurant in Yelp. It also offered a 25% discount to customers who gave it a 1-star review on Yelp.

30. The slogan "Don't Mess with Texas" began as an anti-littering campaign in 1985 targeted at "bubbas in pickup trucks" who littered beer cans out of their vehicles and ordinary Texans who believed that littering was a "God-given right."

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31Nestle Ad

Nestle Ad

As part of a marketing campaign in 2012, Nestle posted a photo on Instagram of a person in a bear costume playing drums, using Kit Kats as drum sticks. Nestle removed the photo shortly afterward amid controversy that it looked like "Pedobear."

32. Japanese people traditionally eat at KFC restaurants for Christmas dinner. This tradition is so popular that customers must place their Christmas orders 2 months in advance. This all started with the Japanese marketing campaign in 1974 called “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” or Kentucky for Christmas! Now over 3.6 million Japanese families eat KFC chicken on Christmas every year.

33. In 2004, American video game developer company Bungie started a viral marketing campaign called I Love Bees which had participants from all over the world answering pay phones found by decoding GPS coordinates and times from the website. Hundreds participated, and not a single phone call was missed.

34. To get women to smoke cigarettes in the 1920s, tobacco companies devised a campaign of equating cigarettes as "torches of freedom." The campaign helped women smoking jump from 5% in 1923 to 18.1% in 1935.

35. “Corinthian leather” has no relationship to Corinth, and doesn't really have any meaning it all. It is a marketing term created by the Bozell (Advertising) Agency for a 1974 Chrysler ad campaign.

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Following “Dunk-a-roos” being discontinued in the United States in 2012, General Mills in 2016 encouraged Canadians traveling to the United States to bring the snack to Americans who wanted it in a campaign called "Smugglaroos", as the product still remains in production in Canada.

37. The Pledge of Allegiance was created as part of a youth magazine’s marketing campaign to sell flags to public schools and magazines to students.

38. “Casual Friday” is the product of a guerrilla marketing campaign by Levis' new khakis brand, Dockers during the early 90s recession.

39. Pepsi's progressive president in the 1940s led a marketing campaign that put African Americans in a positive light, cornering an untapped market and taking advantage of Coca-Cola's hesitance to hire black workers.

40. Johnny Cash’s estate once had to turn down an ad campaign to use Ring of Fire for hemorrhoid-relief medication.

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