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This is a great point, and I wish stuff like this was talked about more often.

I think I often naively assume that advertising only exists to encourage us to buy one product in preference to another. Of course, as you say, it's much more insidious than that: they are aiming to change cultural norms about the use of their products. It doesn't matter if that helps their competitors too - if they grow the overall size of the toothpaste market then it's worth it.

I'm sure there are many more examples like the ones you mentioned. The most famous one I can think of is the notion of diamond engagement rings being invented by a diamond company.

I wouldn't be surprised if conversations like the one in this comedy sketch really do happen [0].

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brU_Pp-20g0




Deodorant occurred because of marketing - https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/02/14/odorono-ads-m...

A more modern attempt, selling women on the need for douching, largely failed.


I guess if you shower twice a day, live in a cool climate and have a sedentary lifestyle, you're probably OK.

But for the rest of us, having a helping hand to cover up excessive BO is actually quite helpful.


I actually wasn't passing judgement on either product, whether marketing did good or evil in either case, etc.

I was merely commenting that here are two very similar products, both purporting to be hygiene related, both appealing to "what will other people think?", and one caught on massively (though, per the article, after some initial pushback), while the other has all but died out except in jokes. It's interesting that one caused a major cultural shift (which you yourself are a product of; it's not that you didn't smell in the past, it's that -people expected it-. Much like in many non-western countries; if you go there you'll curl your nose at the BO, but to the residents they don't even notice. It's also why that's a stigma to immigrants here in the US; some immigrants come from places where deodorant simply does not exist), and the other did not.


Good points.

I would also add that people from other parts of the world tend to have different body odor, which can be more noticable.

For instance, I've heard complaints that we Scandinavians tend to have a slight sour milk tinge to our BO, while immigrants from countries like India have a more "spicy" BO.


The best thing that I've found for getting rid of body odour is to wash with bicarbonate of soda. Just buy a large pack and instead/in addition to soap.

Deodorant sprays are just perfume which attempt to cover up the smell, but don't get rid of it. So you end up smelling of both deodorant and body odour.


That's why I use a neutral antiperspirant without perfume.


It is exactly that attitude that's the result of advertising. People didn't always think that body odor stank.


I wouldn't say I'm outright rank-smelling at the end of a day, but it's not a pleasing scent.

Personally, I avoid the over-perfumed variants, I prefer something that just cuts down on odor, without adding too much of its own. There's a nice line of perfume-free soaps and such available here, under the brand name "Neutral".

I also don't poop in a hole in the ground.


People also didn't always think teeth brushing was necessary.


It could be argued that it was significantly less necessary before we started eating so much refined sugar.


Diet (garlic is the well-known culprit, but onions, spices, and dairy products can also have significant effects) and genes are major factors as well.


And I would absolutely hate to give up said foods, personally.


Well the argument I've heard (but I don't know if it's true or not) is the cultural expectation of covering up BO was invented by marketing. That BO is is disagreeable and something that needs to be covered rather than just a natural part of life was what was "invented" by marketing.

You took at face value that BO is bad, but that's a cultural expectation, not something "natural" or inherit of humanity. Some other cultures probably don't find "body odor" to be objectionable.


People also used to empty their chamberpots into the streets, and didn't find the odor particularly objectionable, because it was just "part of life".


Interesting point but do you not find most kinds of ads to be fairly harmless though? Ads for food delivery services, mattresses, shaving, website hosts, soft drinks etc. I do find the example of ads turning body odour into a profitable problem compelling but this seems like a very exceptional example that doesn't happen often.

I think focusing on the worst most deceitful and manipulative examples in history isn't a good way to evaluate the overall merits of something.




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