The Marketing Power Of Jungian Hero Archetypes

8,773 views

Published on

Consumer Psychology

Published in: Business, Technology

The Marketing Power Of Jungian Hero Archetypes

  1. 1. The Power of Jungian Hero Archetypes In Consumer Brand Building November 30th, 2007 Prepared by: Phil Richardson, CD, BA, SCSM c. The Power of Jungian Hero Archetypes In Consumer Brand Building
  2. 2. “Of course, the naysayers will say, ‘it had nothing to do with Crocodile Dundee ... I bought the Outback because it has all wheel drive....’ See, that is the funny thing about mythic images. We are not always conscious that they are working ... except lately, I find that I have this overwhelming desire to say 'G'day." (Randazzo, 2006) 1 Archetypes have been of growing popular interest following their postulation by Carl Jung as a significant ingredient in the operation of the human psyche early in the 20th century. Since then, much work has been devoted to determining their influence on human behaviour. Despite this, because of their intangible nature, it has been very difficult to prove their existence, let alone their power. While archetypes may not be possible to see, taste, or feel, this paper will demonstrate that their power is nonetheless very real, brought to life by their successful application in the field of mass marketing and brand building. Commercial enterprises, in their quest to improve their appeal to consumers, have studied them very closely and employed them quite successfully. A number of marketers and business owners came to the conclusion, and consequently proved, that archetypes are a powerful tool with which to alter human behaviour through story telling in the form of myths. Rather than focussing on direct-sales pitches, these companies placed their confidence in archetypes by employing ones that created very favourable images or brands for their companies. Their premise was that archetypes would result in stronger, ongoing support for all of their products and services over a long period of time – and they were right. To examine the use of archetypes in brand building, it is important to firstly understand branding in general. Brand building has developed into today’s all-consuming passion of consumer- oriented business enterprises and the dynamic advertising industry that serves them. Over the past 150 years, this process, begun during the Industrial Revolution, has evolved at an accelerated pace, due to its profound effect on the economic behaviour of people. This behaviour, known as Consumerism, represents a trend of people spending more and more due to 1. Randazzo , Sal. “Subaru: The Emotional Myths Behind the Brand's Growth,” Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 46, 2006. 2
  3. 3. increasing prosperity. Brand building was first made possible with the introduction of mass, distributed communications via the telegraph and continued to grow in the first half of the 20th century by way of commercial radio and cinema. Later, its growth intensified dramatically with the introduction of commercial television in the early 1950’s and most recently, the Internet. 2 As competition grew amongst the many and varied competing business enterprises, they became more sophisticated in devising methods to motivate consumers to respond to their offerings. Because of this competitive environment, companies continually intensified their efforts over the years to improve results and to compel consumers to purchase products or services. One approach was to collect personal-preference data. To do so, companies have used consumer surveys, focus groups, and very recently, radio frequency identification technology that detects personal-preference information stored on customers’ smart, improved debit and credit cards. While this is important useful information, the real key, however, has been working with scientific research on motivation to stimulate consumers to spend money with one company rather than with its competitors. Over the years, companies experimented in creating the perfect motivational program. The turning point came when companies realized the most potent appeals to consumers were ones that stimulated an emotional response. When that happened, companies began to research the use of archetypes as the foundation to stimulate these responses and continued to refine the process into the sophisticated marketing application it is today. On the whole, Jung’s work was referenced by them in this effort and contributed to their understanding. "How do fictions stir the spectator's psyche? The short answer is through emotion." (Izod, 2001, p. 15) 3 So what is an archetype and why does it stimulate an emotional response? Although the term archetype is very old, Carl Jung used it more recently to describe what he saw in human nature. 2. Turow, Joseph, . “Breaking Up America: Advertisers and the New Media World,” The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 279, June 1997 and Izod, John. Myth, Mind, and the Screen: Understanding the Heroes of Our Times, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 15. 3. Izod Myth, Mind, and the Screen: Understanding the Heroes of Our Times, , John. Cambridge University Press 2001, p. 15. 3
  4. 4. He postulated that archetypes were the human unconscious’ instinctive drive to express various themes or motifs. Love, death, life, heroes, and rebirth are examples of these themes, which have persisted from earliest days through to our present cultures. The conclusion that Jung drew, however, was that these themes or motifs were universal, residing in what he called the collective unconscious. Jung postulated that archetypes have been present in the human psyche since the dawn of civilization, as man has sought to understand his environment and fate. Man has communicated his beliefs in myths containing archetypes that arose in that quest through stories passed on to succeeding generations by word of mouth and which he theorized have become a part of the collective unconscious. In man’s search, certain influential life processes were identified and eventually, in man’s effort to explain them, assigned personifications to better describe them. Essentially, key archetypes, of which there are many, personify the idealized virtues of a culture. They are active in the collective unconscious in that their shape, expected importance, and behaviour is agreed amongst its members. Overall, Jung believed archetypes were extremely influential in determining people’s behaviour and based many of his psychological studies using archetypes as one of his key premises. "The energy attaching to archetypes is such, Jung said, that they form powerful predispositions which can, when activated, govern human behaviour patterns." (Izod, 2001, p. 34)4 To understand Jung’s archetype theory, various people have attempted to define the terms he employed. The American Heritage Dictionary defines archetypes as an inherited pattern of thought or symbolic imagery derived from the past collective experience and present in the individual unconscious. In 2001, John Izod, in “Myth, Mind and the Screen,” described them as “The contents of the collective unconscious. They are not inherited ideas, but inherited modes of psychic functioning. Until activated, they are forms without content; when activated they control patterns of behaviour. The centres of energy around which ideas, images, affects and myths cohere.” (Izod, 4. Ibid p 34 . . . 4
  5. 5. 2001, p. 215). Furthermore, he says that for Jung, archetype refers to what he believed was the existence of definite, inherited forms in the psyche that were present always and in all peoples. Archetypes consisted of forms without content: when content did fill them out, they entered consciousness (Jung 1936 and 1968.) There are as many archetypes as there are typical situations in life. Endless repetition has engraved these experiences into our psychic constitution, not in the form of images filled with content, but firstly as forms without content, representing merely the possibility of a certain type of perception and action. (Jung, 1968.) 5 Three other terms Jung employed were myth, hero, and collective unconscious. Henry Murray in Myth and Mythmaking wrote that a myth, “manifestly consists of the essential features of an important, more or less natural/ preternatural situation or event (that has a basic thema) in which at least one extraordinary, more or less natural/preternatural psychic entity is involved—all this as sensibly represented in one channel or another.” The American Heritage dictionary describes a hero as: “In mythology and legend, a man, often of divine ancestry, who is endowed with great courage and strength, celebrated for his bold exploits, and favoured by the gods.” And lastly, the collective unconscious is described in the dictionary as: “In Jungian psychology, a part of the unconscious mind, shared by a society, a people, or all humankind, that is the 6 product of ancestral experience and contains such concepts as science, religion, and morality.” Jung’s work became very well known, especially following the Second World War, and entered popular literature when new societal elements converged. For example, the United States emerging as a very prosperous super power combined with great technological advances in communications, such as television and colour movies, permitted American industry to intensify marketing its products to citizens. Increasing competition led to companies’ greater efforts to research archetypes and to subsequently experiment with their findings to determine their effects with the purpose to alter consumers’ spending behaviour towards their offerings. In general, 5. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, and Jung, Carl Gustav The Concept of the Collective Unconscious, 1936 and Jung, Carl Gustav The . . Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, The Collected Works, vol. 9, 1, 2nd edn. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968. p.p. 42, 43, 48. 6 Izod Myth, Mind, and the Screen: Understanding the Heroes of Our Times . , John. , Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 215 and Murray, Henry A., and Braziller, George. Myth and Mythmaking,1960, p. 319 and The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. 5
  6. 6. many companies came to appreciate Jung’s theories, understanding that archetypes formed a very strong response in religious beliefs, the arts, and literature. Through identifying the importance of using archetypes and myths in story telling, Carl Jung’s theories were adopted as one of the most effective methods of conveying branding messages to consumers. Once the advertising industry adopted the use of archetypes and myths, they applied them with great effect. The following key examples confirm the power of applying archetypes, strongly suggesting they are as potent in the human psyche as Jung postulated. "What then is the power of the emotions? At base, nothing less than to disturb the equilibrium of the psyche." (Izod, 2001, p. 15) 7 The initiative to use archetypes, delivered in a myth-like story telling manner, proved to be extremely powerful in building brands of knowledgeable companies such as Marlboro, McDonald’s, Subaru, and many others. For example, the use of the archetypical hero, the Marlboro Man, to advertise that company’s cigarettes beginning in the 1950’s is very well documented. Significantly, “By 1992, Financial World ranked Marlboro the world's No. 1 most valuable brand, with a market worth of $32 billion (AdAge.com)”, which clearly supported the power of hero-archetype advertising and drove competitors to try to employ archetypes as well. As competitors observed the market share gains made by these corporations, many attempted to emulate them until the application of these techniques became very common and remain so today. Moreover, television and cinema have created a rich medium to create potent forms of mass communication, so employing archetypes in branding became that much easier and intensified and successes were achieved. 8 “While all the arts are rich treasure-houses of symbolic material, this is especially true of televisual and cinematic fiction with their ability to employ images, speech, narrative and music. Feature films and television 7. Izod , John. Myth, Mind, and the Screen: Understanding the Heroes of Our Times, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 15. 8 . Klein, David. and Donaton, Scott. “Advertising Age: The Advertising Century: A Marketing History Reference Source,” AdAge.com, 1999 on-line available April 18, 2007 at www.adage.com. 6
  7. 7. drama are confined only by the limits of form and human imagination when they rework myth and adapt it to the needs of our time.” (Izod, 2001, p. 15) 9 Marketing Applications of Archetypes The Marlboro Man (Marlboro) The now-banned Marlboro advertising was one of the clearest, most interesting examples of a brand that used the power of strategic storytelling to represent a mytho-symbolic, brand-building world. AdAge.com describes the world’s most successful brand icon as “friendly, unpretentious and honest,” which gained the trust of millions. The archetype started as The Tattooed Man campaign, described by Cullman, as "virility without vulgarity, quality without snobbery" (Esquire 6/60). After introducing this archetype in 1955, Marlboro became the top-selling filtered cigarette in New York. Eight months after the campaign opened, sales had increased 5,000 percent. The archetype evolved into an American cowboy, a mythic image representing the mytho-symbolic world of America's western frontier. Marlboro created one of the strongest, most enduring brands in the world by leveraging the powerful, emotional appeal of the mytho-symbolic world represented by the cowboy and the American west. By 1992, Financial World ranked Marlboro the world's No. 1 most valuable brand, with a market worth of $32 billion. Currently, Philip Morris' tobacco brands are in 180 markets, have a 38-percent market share in the United States, are the top-selling cigarettes in the world, and the 10th-most valuable product brand overall. 10 9. Izod Myth, Mind, and the Screen: Understanding the Heroes of Our Times, , John. Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 15. 10 Randazzo . , Sal. Subaru: “The Emotional Myths Behind the Brand's Growth,” Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 46, 2006 and Klein, David and Donaton, Scott. “Advertising Age: The Advertising Century: A Marketing History Reference Source,” AdAge.com, 1999 on-line available 7
  8. 8. Crocodile Dundee (Subaru) “Yes, we have seen this character before—in our dreams. Like the mythic American cowboy-hero, Crocodile Dundee is a uniquely Australian articulation of an archetypal or mythic image. Crocodile Dundee is a mythic Outback hero that evokes the mytho-symbolic world of the Australian Outback, a rugged, outdoors, untamed, adventurous world that is similar to the American west.” 11 “Mythic or archetypal images like the hero have a powerful, magical appeal because they are truly enchanted. They have their own innate power, which Carl Jung described as ‘numinous,’ or psychically charged. We become possessed by these images. They fire up our imagination.” (Randazzo, 2006). For Subaru, Saul Randazzo, Market Researcher asserted that the great appeal of Crocodile Dundee is based on the fact that he is a special breed of hero, one that is down to earth and one with whom the average person can associate. 12 The history of Subaru’s brand-building success during the 1990’s is simple with its origins in a potent archetype, the hero, Crocodile Dundee who embodied the Subaru brand. As Randazzo stated in his recent Journal article, “Subaru was an also-ran third-tier Japanese car company, struggling in the shadows of Toyota and Honda. Not any more. Subaru has become a popular brand. Buyers have been lining up to buy the various models. Even with a slumping economy, Subaru sales have been on the rise.” By Randazzo’s account, sales increased dramatically and continued to do so throughout the seven years that Subaru ran this campaign. The combination of the character of Crocodile Dundee and the Outback name “gave Subaru a compelling story and its own unique brand identity and personality, which made sense for the brand and connected emotionally with the American consumer.” The author stated that the Crocodile Dundee April 28, 2007 at www.adage.com. 11. Randazzo , Sal. Subaru: The Emotional Myths Behind the Brand's Growth,” Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 46, 2006. 12. Ibid. 8
  9. 9. character in the movie “exhibits what the ancient Greeks called the "cardinal virtues." The cardinal virtues are the stuff of heroes: a man who possesses a sense of justice, what is fair, and just; wisdom, a practical intelligence—common sense; a disciplined and measured response to a problem or crisis; and the courage to take action if necessary. These are the attributes of a modern-day hero and appear to have resonated very well with the American consumer psyche, evidenced by Subaru’s dramatic sales increases with this archetype-style campaign. 13 Ronald McDonald (McDonald’s) According to Randazzo, McDonald's is another example of a brand that uses strategic storytelling (along with promotional advertising) to create a very appealing mytho-symbolic world. McDonald's strategic storied advertising has helped to create a wonderfully appealing, all- American brand, a mythical, family-oriented world, a wondrous, magical place where everyone is welcome, safe, happy, loved, kind, caring, sharing, and forever young or young-at-heart. While in reality it may feel like more of a cafeteria food-fight environment, strategic storied advertising has helped McDonald's create a brand with a mytho-symbolic world that is a microcosm of all that is good about America—everything America is supposed to be. The clown's astounding powers have certainly worked their magic for McDonald's since he was introduced in 1963. The spokes figure helped make McDonald's the most dominant fast-food chain on the planet. He also exemplifies one of the most important qualities of an effective commercial character: He doesn't sell for McDonald's, he is McDonald's. 14 13. Ibid 14. Randazzo , Sal. Subaru: The Emotional Myths Behind the Brand's Growth,” Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 46, 2006 and Klein, David and Donaton, Scott. “Advertising Age: The Advertising Century: A Marketing History Reference Source,” AdAge.com, 1999 on-line available April 28, 2007 at www.adage.com. . 9
  10. 10. Perhaps the most telling story about the power of Ronald McDonald as a symbol of the hero is told by a McDonald’s executive as follows: “McDonald's Corp. advertising executive Roy Bergold can testify to the reach and recognition of Ronald McDonald. But even he could not believe what he witnessed one day in Milwaukee. "Ronald was visiting sick children and he came upon a youngster in a coma," recalls Mr. Bergold. "I watched as the child's eyes began to flicker as Ronald stood by his side. The boy actually regained consciousness during his visit. There's no way to explain how it happened or why, but it was nothing short of amazing." As touched or not as the reader may be by this story, it is inescapable to conclude that there is a very powerful emotional effect generated by the symbol, and the underlying archetype that is its foundation. Jolly Green Giant (Minnesota Valley Canning Company) According to the study performed by AdAge.com in which they identified the top 10 brand icons of the 20th century, the Jolly Green Giant ranked third behind The Marlboro Man and Ronald McDonald. This became one of the more evolved icons after his original disappointing introduction, according to AdAge.com. With careful re-tailoring of his image, the Jolly Green Giant gained acceptance over time. His evolution included adding a sunny smile and leafy suit and portraying him against a background of bountiful fields of vegetables. In addition, to avoid engendering a fear factor because of his size, he was often only partially visible in the advertising, with his image supplemented by his booming but cheerful voice. This process identifies the need to fine-tune such icons so that they more faithfully represent the archetypical image that will evoke the desired response, namely the establishment of the bond between the archetype and the brand. However, the enduring effect also suggests 10
  11. 11. that once on target, the archetype does not change rapidly over time, since this icon has remained largely the same since its makeover. The Jolly Green Giant typifies a hero archetype in that he is portrayed as a strong, tall, reliable, and friendly figure, one upon whom the consumer can depend. Of course, in recent years, his environmentally consistent image has likely strengthened his appeal with the increased awareness of the importance of protecting the environment. 15 Powerful Appeal of Archetypal Heroes The power of mythic or archetypal hero images, represented in characters such as the Marlboro Man’s cowboy, Crocodile Dundee, Ronald McDonald and the Jolly Green Giant is their universal appeal and their emotional resonance. Like archetypal stories, archetypal images resonate in our psyche because they represent universal yearnings. Jung introduced the concept in 1919, and he believed that archetypes function somewhat like an instinct to drive and shape all of our behaviours. In terms of the archetypes employed in the brands reviewed herein, they were developed at different times during the 20th century. However, they share some notable similarities. The first is their measured financial success; most North Americans, and many others in the world, grew familiar with them and supported the companies represented by the brands very strongly with their pocket books, and continue to do so. Secondly, they share a common approach; their brand-building programs were each based on associating their companies with the created powerful archetype. In particular, the companies used the potent symbols of The Marlboro Man, Crocodile Dundee, Ronald McDonald, and the Jolly Green Giant to each represent a hero to their respective audiences. As an ancient archetype, the hero has persisted throughout the ages as highly influential in all societies. These brand-building campaigns counted on that, using mass advertising media to communicate the archetypes quickly to the general public. The brands they developed through their use of archetypes continue to be Klein, David and Donaton, Scott. “Advertising Age: The Advertising Century: A Marketing History Reference Source,” AdAge.com, 1999 15. on-line available April 28, 2007 at www.adage.com. 11
  12. 12. persuasive today to not only consumers to whom they were introduced originally, but also to new consumers through the modernization of symbols and careful attention to the tailoring of their image and approach to various audiences. What these brands demonstrate is the deep reach that they have into the psyche of consumers, with the effect that they remain very persuasive with them. While the efficacy of this process is not fully documented in journal articles, including failed attempts that may have been made to emulate the successes of archetypal use in branding, these few examples do point to the powerful economic impact the basic Jungian concepts have helped create. And while it would be very difficult to rank the potency of the various successful brands on the basis of financial productivity alone since they represent such diverse products and services with widely different unit values, it is possible to compare them in terms of the resonance factor that the icons of each brand has within the general population. AdAge.com did just that by evaluating this resonance factor using four measures: effectiveness, longevity, recognizability and cultural impact. To determine the rankings, AdAge.com began in 1998, with many researchers, to build comprehensive lists of great work and careers in advertising. Editors and former editors of Ad Age.com debated, discussed, and refined these lists. In essence, they endeavoured to re-create the history of advertising. Through these efforts, they determined the top ten icons of the 20th century were: 16 1. The Marlboro Man - Marlboro cigarettes 2. Ronald McDonald - McDonald's restaurants 3. The Green Giant - Green Giant vegetables 4. Betty Crocker - Betty Crocker food products 5. The Energizer Bunny - Eveready Energizer batteries 6. The Pillsbury Doughboy - Assorted Pillsbury foods 7. Aunt Jemima - Aunt Jemima pancake mixes and syrup 8. The Michelin Man - Michelin tires 9. Tony the Tiger - Kellogg's Sugar Frosted Flakes . Klein, David and Donaton, Scott. “Advertising Age: The Advertising Century: A Marketing History Reference Source,” AdAge.com, 1999 16 on-line available April 28, 2007 at www.adage.com. 12
  13. 13. 10. Elsie - Borden dairy products Many people are very familiar with the brands in the preceding list. Ironically, the Marlboro Man is now banned from the advertising world, at least in North America, reflecting the changing mores of our society. Notwithstanding the subjective basis for this ranking, most readers of this list would report favourable feelings towards the brands they represent, with the exception of Marlboro due to the now-proven deleterious effect of cigarettes. How has this effect been achieved? Why is it so powerful and seemingly universal? Are we compelled equally forcefully by all of them? These questions clearly call out for answers that can only be found through further research. Nonetheless, it is clear that each brand has generated great financial success for the companies that developed and own them. This appears to strongly validate that there is an extremely powerful process at work within the general population concerning their overwhelming acceptance – and the evidence points clearly towards the potency of the hero archetypes. Certainly for a non-tangible concept, the results have been overwhelmingly tangible. Ultimately, companies’ adoption and application of Jungian archetypes in brand building over the past 50 years has shown not only that it is valuable to create archetypes, it also points to the basic, core validity of Jung’s theories on the power of archetypes in the human psyche. 13
  14. 14. Bibliography Izod Myth, Mind, and the Screen: Understanding the Heroes of Our Times, , John. Cambridge University Press 2001. Jung, Carl Gustav The Concept of the Collective Unconscious, 1936 . and Jung, Carl Gustav, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, The Collected Works, vol. 9, 1, 2nd edn. London London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968. Klein, David and Donaton, Scott. “Advertising Age: The Advertising Century: A Marketing History Reference Source,” AdAge.com, 1999 on-line available April 28, 2007 at www.adage.com. Murray, Henry A., and Braziller, George. Myth and Mythmaking,1960 Randazzo , Sal. “Subaru: The Emotional Myths Behind the Brand's Growth,” Journal of Advertising Research, Vol. 46, 2006. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Turow, Joseph, . “Breaking Up America: Advertisers and the New Media World,” The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 279, June 1997 14
  15. 15. 15

×