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Building Excitement and Creating Content Out of Thin Air

Updated: Sep 2, 2022


Where do ideas come from? Thin (pink) air! Every day I spend time studying successful ads from the past. A series of FINA Oil ads got my attention because of the way the ad campaign unfolded and developed over the course of several weeks. Rather than just seeing one ad, it was like you were keeping up with a story that was developing. At first, I thought it might have something to do with breast cancer, because of the pink colors. But these ads, written by Howard Luck Gossage, were written in the mid-sixties, before Evelyn H. Lauder and Self magazine co-created the famous pink ribbon Breast Cancer Campaign in 1992. The FINA ad is a little silly when compared to the decades-long breast cancer campaign. And it wasn't really selling anything, other than air... which might even have been free. The thing is, gas is a commodity, and people look for gas based on price. This whole "pink air" ad campaign served two purposes. To get attention in a fun and non-pushy way. It was also a sneaky way to make an offer for their credit card (more on that later). Back in the day FINA had a strikingly laid-back motto. Behold their slogan, to the right. This was all happening before there were any of the major gas related crises in the seventies and decades to follow. As far as I can tell, when they were making these pink air ads, they were looking for a way to get attention by talking about additives without having to get too boring or technical. They said they already had all the additives they needed for their gas, and now they were just going to make their compressed air pink and would you like a sample? How do you even make money sending samples of free pink air? I'm not sure if you can. But when you send in the coupon to get the free sample of air, they casually included a check box where you could also apply for the credit card. The idea of free air branched out and changed a couple of times. Neiman Marcus (they were close to FINA... neighbors... and apparently had the same advertising agency and copywriter) got in on the game and released an ad for compressed pink air freshener, and in their ads they bragged about how they beat FINA in the race to have pink air. Next, they turned it into a contest. But it was no longer just pink air they were talking about. Now they were giving away 15 yards of free pink asphalt. The asphalt was awarded to the person who had the most interesting use for it. They said they would ship it to anywhere in the country. Again, they made the credit card offer on the contest coupon. First prize went to a mother of five boys who has pregnant with the sixth child. She wanted a pink landing strip for the stork in hopes of finally getting a girl. The next one went to a high school who wanted a new tennis court. The third, an honorary mention, went to the manager of a FINA gas station who was already planning to repave the parking lot and wanted to do it in pink. None of it was overly serious. The copywriter was experimenting with ways of getting customers to engage with the company and write in. No matter what type of business you are in, you should be finding creative ways to get the customer to interact with you through contests, offers, and events. Call me at 505-515-7001 to schedule a consultation.







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