The Scourge of Society: Packaging and Advertising

The name of the game is to increase net profits in any way you can, while diminishing the strength of the competitors’ brands. Some products come sealed within extremely hard, extremely tough plastics, which enclose a product that might cost less to produce than the cost to produce the packaging. Within the package is advertising, printed in full colour on heavy cardboard. That packaging will be on and in this earth for centuries.

Stores already provide quite handy, advertising covered shopping bags. I’m somewhat familiar with advertising because I spent several decades writing and directing television commercials. While it’s true that in the end the money is in your pocket, as they say, and you get to choose when and why you give it up. Advertising strives to influence your purchase decision. You’re going to need toothpaste anyway, so the advertisers are suggesting you choose this one, not that one. Not the other one either. Choose me! Choose me! I’m new and improved!

Advertising does influence consumers. I was able to create a series of commercials for a sugar free chewing gum that was an obscure brand in its category. As each of the commercials aired, thirteen weeks apart, the sales of the brand escalated until it was running with the top named, market leading brands. People are going to buy gum (for some reason), and advertising can give good reasons to buy THIS gum.

There was a bright young man who worked as a brand manager for a leading brand of cough drops. The target was to increase the profit margin on the brand, even though it was already selling briskly. An increase in profits for an already very profitable brand is not easy to achieve.

The young brand manager had ordered a trainload of sugar long before the order for increased profits had come down from some executive. He had committed to the sugar purchase at a good price, but that wouldn’t show in the profits. He checked the market and found that the price of sugar had almost doubled since he’d agreed on a price with the supplier. The brand manager was able to sell half his trainload of sugar for enough money to keep the remainder almost free, for the factory.

This guy is really smart. He needed an idea on how to cover for the absent quota of sugar without slowing production, and he came up with one: each of the little cough drops has a little dimple in the middle, on both sides. He increased the dimple depth by a millimeter, saved the sugar from it, and profits when right up, as did the young guy.


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