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Home  /  Marketing   /  THE DARK ART OF MARKETING


Carl Jung believed that for every positive psychological response there is an opposite side. When we look at the traditional function of myth in society, we see many marketing stories that embody this shadow side.

As marketers we maybe fluent in marketing language but very often that language is based on an inadequacy approach. These stories encourage immature emotions like greed, vanity, and insecurity by telling us somehow we are incomplete.

All inadequacy marketing stories follow a simple approach. In these stories the moral always begins with “You are not”… And plays off at least one negative emotion
Greed: “You are not in possession of what makes you happy.”
Fear: “You are not safe.”
Lust: “You are not attractive enough to be loved.”

Listerine – the story of ‘Sad Edna’
In 1922 Gerard Lambert was fretting over sales. His Father had invented Listerine, a good surgical antiseptic that had been reasonably successful as a cure for throat infections. But the market was too small to make Listerine a business worth getting excited about. So they sat down to brainstorm a new idea for the hard to market product. Bad breath was suggested and when a chemist confirmed that Listerine would work on “halitosis,” they were intrigued.

“Sad Edna,’ often seen as the bridesmaid, never the bride”, introduces an unhappy young women, alone at thirty, deprived of status, safety and sex appeal she so desires. To make matters worse, since halitosis never announces itself to the victim you can never know when you have it. Through the tragedy of ‘Sad Edna’, America internalised a difficult but important moral of the story; you are not safe, sexy or desirable because halitosis is standing in the way.

Of course ‘Sad Edna’ wouldn’t just sell millions of dollars of Listerine, she would become a founding goddess of the American myth of the sanitised body. This myth, would in turn lay the foundation for a multi-billion beauty industry.