It has been said that marketing is more about selling an idea than a product. There is an early episode of Mad Men where Don Draper comes up with a way to sell cigarettes simply by saying that the tobacco is toasted, even though all brands have toasted tobacco. It really doesn’t matter what you’re trying to sell, just use words that make it seem attractive. Technically, you don’t even need to lie, just say things that people want to hear. Even if that means saying things that don’t mean anything.
10. Corinthian Leather is just leather
Is there something similar to the smell of a new car? It’s hard to even explain what it is. Maybe some of the paint, some of the deodorizers and cleaners used in production, and possibly even that rich Corinthian leather.
Mmm, can you already feel it? Smooth, flexible, and luxurious? Yes, Corinthian leather is the top-tier upholstery for your car and why shouldn’t it be? It comes from Corinth, right? The ancient Greek city that was once plundered by the Romans and currently has a population of less than 40,000? They probably know a lot about leather.
In reality, Corinthian leather has nothing to do with each other because Corinthian leather doesn’t exist. It was made up by advertising executives of Ricardo Montalban. Yes, Star Trek’s Khan.
According to the story, Montalban was doing the play Don Juan when he arrived in Detroit and Chrysler and their advertising agency saw him perform. The executives loved Montalban and wanted him to promote the Cordoba, which sounded Spanish and fit with Montalban’s sexy mystique.
They had him talk about Corinthian leather because, with his accent, that word sounded very smooth. Much cooler than just «leather.» It was only cheap leather that didn’t come from any special place, but now it sounded like it did and people wanted it.
9. There is no such thing as sushi-grade fish
About five million Americans eat sushi once a month, and it’s safe to say that it’s probably the most popular Japanese cuisine in North America. Some people love it enough to try making it themselves, although it can take years. even more than a decade to master in Japan.
One thing that concerns people when it comes to making sushi is the quality of the fish. You need sushi-grade fish, right? You can find sushi-grade fish for sale at markets, but what they rarely tell you is that it doesn’t mean anything.
Things get a bit complicated when it comes to understanding this because, in the United States, the FDA has guidelines for fish if it is served raw. Their Parasite Destruction Guarantee states that, to serve a raw product, it must be «frozen and stored at -20°C (-4°F) or below for a minimum of 168 hours (7 days).» That will ensure it has a minimal risk of having parasites in the fish. But is that sushi grade? No.
There is no regulation in North America for the actual term «sushi grade.» It can be used by suppliers who meet the FDA standard, but the FDA doesn’t regulate the use of that label, so anyone can say that any fish is sushi grade with no basis.
The term sushi grade was used as a marketing term in the early 2000s to convince restaurants to expand beyond just tuna when trying to sell raw fish. It was a nice term that sounded official and convinced them to broaden their horizons.
8. Superfruit is just a vague marketing term
Everyone wants to sell you the next big breakthrough, and a trendy term that emerged a few years ago was «superfood.» In some circles, this has been narrowed down to «superfruit.» Things like pomegranate, acai, goji berries, and even blueberries have been called superfruits, mainly because they have antioxidants or any other nutrient that someone is trying to hype up as a miracle.
In reality, a superfruit is just a fruit. It may be a good fruit and it’s great if you love it and want to eat it, but it’s not «better» than other fruits. That’s the problem with a word like «super,» it doesn’t have much objective meaning.
The European Union banned the label «superfood» back in 2007 unless manufacturers could provide evidence of how that item was good for health. .
7. All salt is sea salt
Once upon a time, if you went to the store to buy salt, you would find iodized salt boxes, salt shakers, and maybe some coarse or kosher salt. Now, when you go, you’ll find gray salt, pink salt, Atlantic sea salt, Celtic sea salt, black salt, and probably a few dozen more.
Sea salt is very important, especially in marketing other products. For example, sea salt chips or pretzels coated with coarse sea salt. You know it’s good if it comes from the sea! Except in a very literal way, all salt is sea salt.
Even if the ocean it came from dried up hundreds or thousands of years ago, it came from the sea at some point. And it is chemically exactly the same as all other salts, just may have a handful of other random, unrelated minerals included in small quantities to alter the color.
Modern marketing uses terms like «sea salt» to make it seem different from «regular» salt and therefore of higher quality or more nutritious, but in the end, it’s the same.
6. Angus is just a cattle breed and doesn’t imply quality
People take beef seriously, and any restaurant trying to entice you into buying steaks or hamburgers won’t just have «beef» on the menu. They’ll seduce you with stories of how good that beef is. It will be USDA Prime beef, and maybe, if you’re really fancy, it will be Certified Angus beef. That has to be good. It’s certified! It got a certificate!
So what makes beef Angus certified? It has to come from an Angus cow. Just like Holstein or Guernsey, Angus is a breed of cow. They’re the black ones, and to qualify as Angus, a cow has to be mostly black. Then, to be Certified Angus beef, the meat has to have a specific amount of marbling and muscle thickness, etc.
In terms of taste, you probably won’t notice any difference between Angus beef and any other beef of the same quality because it’s all beef. If it has the same fat content, it will be virtually identical. The Angus label, which is typically used to make beef seem higher quality, more flavorful, or just better than «regular» beef, is nothing more than marketing.
The big difference comes down to Angus vs. Certified Angus. The certified beef is at least inspected to ensure the highest quality in terms of marbling that affects taste. Again, if you had beef from a different breed that had the same thickness, the same marbled fat, etc., it will taste the same.
If someone is selling Angus beef that doesn’t say it’s certified, then it could be any quality of Angus. This is what fast food companies do with their Angus burgers, and you end up paying more for beef that is not of better quality than what is normally on the menu.
5. Portobello, Cremini, and Button mushrooms are all the same
Not everyone enjoys mushrooms, but many people do, and the mushroom industry is worth it. 50 billion dollars per year. Matsutake mushrooms can cost up to $2000 per pound, so it’s easy to see where all that money comes from.
Marketing plays a big role in selling mushrooms, and nowhere is it more evident than in the world of portobello mushrooms. For those of us who can’t spend a few grands on matsutakes or truffles, portobello is the more accessible fancy mushroom. You’ll see them on menus when a restaurant wants to elevate a dish above the old boring mushrooms. Or at least trick you into thinking that.
In reality, there is no such thing as a portobello mushroom. Obviously, it is a real mushroom, but it is no different from those little white button mushrooms you see on the shelves of every grocery store in North America, and that’s because they are the exact same mushroom.
The little white button mushrooms turn brown as they age. At some point, they will be marketed as cremini mushrooms, probably right next to their pale, younger selves on the shelf. But when they grow big enough, they become portobello. The three mushrooms are the same mushroom, just at different stages of their lifespan. Marketing makes it seem like you’re getting something more sophisticated or higher quality.
4. No Tears shampoo for kids didn’t have a specific meaning
Have you ever opened your eyes in the shower with a head full of shampoo and instantly regretted it as the foam gets in your eyes and burns your skull? Luckily, they invented tear-free shampoo so you can lather up your eyes until the cows come home. Except that’s not really how it works, and the concept of «tear-free» shampoo was more marketing than a practical formula.
There was never a standard formula governing what «tear-free» meant among shampoo brands. Until 2013, Johnson & Johnson used to include formaldehyde in its tear-free baby shampoo, which you probably don’t need a chemistry degree to know is bad to get in your eyes.
More confusing was that, for a few years, there was a debate about whether not having tears meant tears like the liquid that comes out of your eyes or tears like hair tearing and breaking. There were commercials that made it clear the formula was a detangler so that when you comb your hair later, it doesn’t rip your skull open and make you cry.
Johnson and Johnson, after the formaldehyde, said their formula meant that there would be no tears, as in no crying if the shampoo comes into contact with the eyes because their formula is made up of larger molecules Designed to be less aggressive on the eyes and skin. All this means that the marketing term «tear-free» meant very little to most people as it was widely open to interpretations.
3. Cage-free and free-range may not mean what you think
Once upon a time, you went to a store and bought eggs. Now you can choose omega-3 eggs, organic eggs, free-range eggs, pasture-raised eggs, and a few dozen more. Some of those things mean something and some probably don’t mean what you think they mean.
Cage-free eggs mean that yes, the hen that laid them wasn’t in a cage. But that also doesn’t mean she was outside. These hens are kept in rooms where they can roam around and have unlimited access to food and water. However, hens often fight with each other, and poor ventilation means they can live with terrible air quality.
Free-range is more insidious. It seems like the hens can roam around, but it actually means they «theoretically» can roam freely. The place they are kept must have a door to the outside, but there is literally no rule saying a farmer has to open it, or that the access they have to the outside is anything more than a small cage. Look for «certified humane» if you want more assurance that they had access to outdoor space.
Another label, farm fresh, has no meaning. All chickens are raised on farms, so saying this is just filler. The farm could be in the fiery pits of hell, and the eggs would still be fresh. Similarly, the word natural has no meaning because an egg, by definition, is natural.
2. Saltwater taffy and regular taffy are the same
Would you rather eat taffy or saltwater taffy, assuming you’re a taffy person? There’s no need to stress anymore as there is no difference between the two. Saltwater taffy is just a thing to sound better. It’s not even made from saltwater.
According to legend, a candy store in Atlantic City was flooded one day due to the fury of the sea level. A customer wanted to buy candy, and the owner joked that all he had was saltwater taffy, thanks to the flooding. But he sold what he had, the customer liked it, and boom, a new name was created.
1. The term «teenager» was invented in the 1940s
Everyone knows what a teenager is, it’s obvious. But its usage is only obvious in the present. If you asked someone in the 1930s what a teenager was, at best they would respond with a raised eyebrow. This is because the concept of teenagers was invented as a marketing angle in the 1940s.
Teenagers became a recognized phase of life, that sport between childhood and adulthood as society moved away from agrarian roots into urban life and manufacturing. To keep all the kids from being chimney sweeps or coal miners, mandatory education was created, and a clear «new» type of human emerged: the teenager. A little rebellious, a little better educated, and unique in their desires and needs.
Marketers everywhere must have rejoiced at this brand new, cross-cultural customer base they had. created to sell things toand that to this day stands as one of the most important forces in pop culture and marketing as everyone wants to be the next «big thing» for teenagers.
Pablo Vallejo es un apasionado por el conocimiento y la curiosidad. Con una mente analítica y una inclinación por lo surrealista, ofrece a los lectores artículos fascinantes sobre una amplia gama de temas. Listascuriosas.com es el destino perfecto para aquellos que buscan información interesante y sorprendente. Únete a esta tribu de personas entusiastas y curiosas para aprender algo nuevo y emocionante para compartir con tus amigos.