Imagine that the biggest “flaw” of a product is proudly advertised in its official tagline. It sounds crazy, right?

Imagine a cough syrup manufacterer stating in its very own ads that its main product tastes just like: snail trail accumulation, trash bag leakage, cardio workout perspiration, pig tongue scrapings, used mouthwash, spring break hot tub water or public restroom puddle. Say it, #WTF.

Difficult to believe and yet a #truestory, the one of Canadian-born company Buckley’s. Their famous tagline “It tastes awful. And it works” is a winner. It means more sales and bigger market share.

Watch one of the ads on Youtube.

Check this little selection I made of the print ads they used over the years:

  • Our largest bottle is 200ml. Anything more would be cruel.
  • People swear by it. And at it.
  • I’m dedicated to ensuring every new batch of Buckley’s tastes as bad as the last.
  • Made with oil of ine needles. What did you expect it to taste like?
  • Your cough won’t know what hit it, neither will you.
  • Open wide and say “@#$%&*!”

Buckley’s incorporated “awful taste” as a brand attribute in the early ’80s, when they found out after a market research, that their target had this perception about the product.

The goal is clear, it’s the ol’ “let’s turn a weakness into a strength”. But, were the advertisers playing with fire or was that a safe bet? Are there any hidden motivations that trigger people to buy the syrup?

I am going to demonstrate it in five points:

1. The Attention

No need to say that the message is odd and surprising. It doesn’t seem to make sense so it’s impressive. We must admit that the ads grab our attention and make people speak about them. In nowadays terms, we may say this tagline is viral. It’s funny and at the same time, we may remember it.

2. The Dare

The slogan is essentially a dare. Challenges are very strong motivators. People need to know if the taste is as awful as they say. So in fact, it’s not a turn-off, it’s an invitation for validation.

3. The Balance

It would be very foolish to state that a product needs to have a negative brand attribute to increase market share and sales. As you have guessed, you can only do it in very special circumstances. First of all, you have to analyse the flaw and put it in perspective. How big is it? Transcendence, the state of being beyond the range of normal perception, is crucial here. In Buckley’s case, we are kind of used to the fact that cough syrups taste bad. This fact makes this flaw lose some points. Anyway, you still have to put it in a balance with a positive statement that beats it. The good claim is “And it works”. Note the use of “And” after a point instead of “but” and no point. Putting a “but” in there would have been unwise, on the other hand, the “and” after a dot, puts the two sentences in the two pans of the balance scale.

The strategy here is to make the second phrase outweigh the first by using the first to reinforce the second. How? The answer is in the nature itself of the first phrase. Studies demonstrate that mentioning a drawback in your arguments, against your self-interest or product, create “the perception that you and your organization are honest and trustworthy. This puts you in a position to be more persuasive when promoting your genuine strengths” (Goldstein, Martin, Cialdini). So this is what happens: by saying the first phrase, they give more credibility to the second. This tactic has been applied not only in marketing (Volkswagen, Listerine, Avis) but also in Civil Trials.

4. The Pain

David B. Morris, in an article titled Belief and Narrative for The Scientist in 2005, states that the famous “no pain, no gain” is an American modern mini-narrative that compresses the story of a protagonist who understands that the road to achievement runs only through hardship. And it makes sense; If you want to become an architect, you know that you need to study a lot. If you want to run a marathon, you know that you have to train a lot. So Buckley’s says: if you want to get your cough healed, you have to taste a nasty syrup. This card is also played.

5. The Magic

Let’s speak about magic now. Let’s enter the fascinating world of deep psychological factors that influence the perception and effectiveness of medicine. The colour of the box, the shape of the pills, its name or the way it is administrated influence the effectiveness. The power of the mind. A Placebo effect is “the tendency of any medication or treatment, even an inert or ineffective one, to exhibit results simply because the recipient believes that it will work”. Studies have found that a placebo injection is more effective than a placebo pill. Why is that? According doctor Ben Goldacre, author of the bestseller Bad Science, it is because the injection feels like a more dramatic intervention. The more dramatic the ritual, the more effective it will be or, better said, may be perceived.

For above reasons, Buckley’s interest is to present its syrup as the worst in taste. It’s a genius marketing campaign. Also, a safe bet.

Carles Roca-Font
Customer Support Manager at Camaloon

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E.

Essential Podcasts for Entrepreneurs & Tech Lovers

Podcasts are a great way to discover new subjects and new people. Whether you are a tech lover or an entrepreneur, bellow you will discover podcasts for entrepreneurs you should – without a doubt – listen to. 

Itnig Podcast with César Migueláñez, Bernat Farrero and Carlos Pierre
Itnig Podcast with César Migueláñez, Bernat Farrero and Carlos Pierre

« Masters of Scale » 

with Reid Hoffman

The host: Reid Hoffman decides to turn to the corporate world instead of pursuing a university carrier. He worked for Apple, Fujitsu for then starting his own business: SocialNet and left it in 2000 to join Confinity. Confinity gives life to Paypal after fusionning. Finally, in 2003, Hoffman co-founds LinkedIn. He is Master of Scale’s host. 

About: The podcast welcomes some of the greatest entrepreneurs. You will discover throughout the talk how they managed to take their companies from 0 to a lot of zeros. You can listen to Masters of Scale’s special guests like Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Selina Tobaccowalla (Evite), Brian Chesky (Airbnb) or Nancy Lublin (Crisis Text Line). Must-hear: one of the top tech podcasts for entrepreneurs.

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Youtube

The Team: Reid Hoffman, June Cohen, Deron Triff and Jai Punjabi

« Rocket » 

with Christina Warren, Simone de Rochefort and Brianna Wu

The hosts: Christina Warren started as a Freelance Writer. Then, she worked at Mashable as a Senior Tech Analyst and Tech Correspondent and ended the journey at Microsoft as a Senior Cloud Developer Advocate. About Simone de Rochefort, she is  Senior Video Producer and co-host of The Polygon Show. Brianna Wu founded her first startup at the age of 19, Giant Spacekat. She was Head of Development at the time. She is now running for US Congress. 

About: In this podcast, you will discover three passionate women and their “geek conversation” as they like to call it.  No guest speakers, but you will be able to listen to a panel of tech subjects from Apple to Comics, you will not be disappointed. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify and Castro

« This week in Startups »

with Jason Calacanis

The host: Jason Calacanis starts as an internet industry journalist in New-York. In 2003, he co-founded Weblogs, Inc and then a few years later he joined Sequoia Capital, launched the web directory Mahalo. He also founded ThisWeekIn.com. Furthermore, he created This Week in Startups podcast and a startup named Inside.com. Finally, he was part of the creation of the Sydney Launch Festival. 

About: Either you are looking to start your own company, or you are a successful entrepreneur, or you just love technology, this podcast will give you a peek to the entrepreneurship world. You will hear stories of all kinds! On his website, you will also find his events and some research on transportation, healthcare and more. This is one is part of the tech podcasts for entrepreneurs not to be missed.

Listen to the podcast: Apple Podcasts, Youtube, SoundCloud and RSS Feed

You can also subscribe to their newsletter in order to receive episodes directly. 

The Team: Jason Calacanis, Jacqui Deegan, and Tony Agapiou

« Recode / Decode » 

with Kara Swisher

The host: Kara Swisher is an American journalist specialized in the technology industry. She first started to work for an alternative newspaper in Washington for then working for the Washington Post. She wrote articles for the Wall Street Journal and New York Times and wrote her own books. Finally, in 2014, she created Recode, a website dedicated to the latest technology news. In 2015, she initiates Recode Decode. 

About: The weekly podcast welcomes tech experts and great entrepreneurs. They review how they got there, what’s on their mind about the current industry and what they would improve or create. Her recent guests were Elon Musk (Tesla CEO), former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mark Zuckerberg. 

Listen to the podcast: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn

« K Fund PodKast »

with Jaime Novoa

The host: Jaime Novoa’s background is quite diverse. He is a writer and an investor, but he also worked in data analysis and social media analysis. In 2014, he founded Novobrief, a newsletter for startups. Then, in 2016, he becomes an investor at K Fund and he founds, in 2019, Dealflow, a weekly tech newsletter. 

About: The podcast discusses startups, entrepreneurs and Venture Capital. You will discover enterprises and their story. From data science, unicorns or digital platforms, you sure will find more than one interesting podcast. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website and Soundcloud

« Clockwise »

with Dan Moren and Mikah Sargent

The hosts: Dan Moren is an active author and writer as well as podcaster. He was a Senior Editor at Macworld. Today, he hosts two podcast shows: Clockwise and The Rebound. As for Mikah Sargent, he started as a Website Designer and Developer for then switching as a Senior Editor at Newsy. He now hosts few podcasts such as Clockwise on Replay FM or on TWiT.tv. 

About: The weekly podcast discusses technology and welcomes each time 2 special guests. For 30 minutes, they address 4 topics where all four speakers get to elaborate on the matter, highlight the issues and expose their thoughts. 

Listen to the podcast: On their website, Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Spotify and Castro

« Itnig Podcast»

with Bernat Farrero

The host: Bernat Farrero starts his career as a Developer. In 2009, he founded Itnig, a startup ecosystem that organizes entrepreneurship events. They also have a coworking for startups, a podcast and a fund for early-stage projects. Furthermore, he is a Founder of Factorial, Quipu and Camaloon. He is also a Board Member of Playfullbet, GymForLess and Parkimeter. Finally, he hosts Itnig’s weekly Podcast. 

About: The podcast welcomes every week a new guest. If you wish to learn from successful entrepreneurs, you are on the right platform. The discussions turn around Technology and its industry. You will come across guests like Carlos Pierre (Badi), Vincent Rosso (BlaBlaCar) or Oscar Pierre (Glovo).

Listen to the podcast: Youtube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Ivoox, and Google Podcasts

You can subscribe to their newsletter if you want to receive the podcast’s link every Monday. 

Whether you are at an early stage of your project, an investor or you are just curious, these podcasts for entrepreneurs give you the opportunity to be updated on tech and business news. Also, you get to learn from successful international entrepreneurs, which can definitely be very useful for your business.