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Last week I spent time with garden magazines that I had put aside for months with plans to read when I found a few free hours.
At the back of one magazine I discovered an ad for Clarington garden tools. The tag line on the ad in tiny letters at the bottom said “English made garden tools since 1780.” [below]
When I read that line, I thought what a powerful way to motivate a potential consumer to buy the product. You were buying not only a tool but a tradition of craftsmanship in tool-making to help the gardener. You could perhaps imagine yourself as an English gardener with these tools.
As cultural historian Jackson Lears argues in his book Fables of Abundance: A Cultural History of Advertising in America, the consumer buys that image, that tradition, that dream, in a product he/she purchases. Hopefully these tools, made in the English garden tradition, will enable an American gardener to cultivate a garden worthy of the style called ‘English.’
Lears quotes the advertising copywriter John Star Hewitt who wrote in 1925, “No one ever in his life bought a mere piece of merchandise – per se. What he buys is the satisfaction of a physical need or appetite, or the gratification of some dream about his life.”
So in advertsing garden products, the marketer needs to align that product with a sense of satisfaction or well-being for the consumer.
That theory of how modern advertising works has been a business model since the 1890s.
Thus American seed and nursery companies, as well as garden tool manufacturers, sold a dream, a hope, and a vision with their products.
Today a British garden tool company continues to sell the dream of an English garden by aligning its garden tools with that long tradition of the English garden.
[Above illustration courtesy of match dating website wikipedia. ]