2 Truths and a Lie: The Power of Unarticulated Tensions

I recently picked up golf; and I have really fallen in love with Penguin Brand golf shirts. A friend asked what I want for my birthday. I said, I like Penguin Brand golf shirts. She asked, why do you like that brand? I said, because Penguin Brand golf shirts are really comfortable and light weight.

Lightweight? Comfort? It’s a golf shirt. They all are lightweight. They all are incredibly comfortable. So why do I buy that particular brand?

Arguably one of the best campaigns in the history of marketing is “Got Milk,” which was created in 1993 by an Agency called Goodby and Silverstein for the California Milk Processor Board.

But do you know the story behind why “Got Milk?” What’s so special about “Got Milk?”

Let’s back up. 

Prior to “Got Milk?” there was “Milk Does a Body Good.” 

Milk does do a body good. A common exchange in research was as follows: 

Question: Why do you drink milk?

Answer: Because milk does a body good.

So why then did “Milk Does a Body Good” year over year produce declining sales? 

“Milk Does a Body Good” relies on a benefit that everyone agrees with. “Got Milk?” Relies on a tension that everyone has experienced.

You don’t sell milk by showing kids eating big bowls of cereal drowned in healthy, nutritious milk. You sell milk by showing a bowl filled with jagged, bone dry cereal flakes next to an empty carton of milk. Got enough milk at home? or better yet — GOT MILK?

Snickers takes the “Got Milk” strategy of finding tension in the deprivation of the product one step further. 

First, the set up: the best selling candy bar is Snickers. The best tasting candy bar (according to industry taste tests) is Milky Way. So why does Snickers outsell Milky Way?

Because all Milky Way ever talks about is how chocolaty the chocolate is and how smooth the caramel is. 

Snickers doesn’t make the delicious ingredients the focus, they make the hunger the focus. More specifically, when hunger turns to crankiness.  

This is one of the best examples of modern positioning as well. By focusing on resolving those hunger pain moments, Snickers is no longer a candy, which is full of guilt, it resolves the guilt by figuratively stepping out of the candy aisle and into the snack isle. Hangry: Nobody feels guilty after eating a snack. People do feel guilty after eating a candy bar.

I realized why I buy Penguin Brand golf shirts. 

Because I think they make me look younger on the golf course. 

It has nothing to do with comfort.

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