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Marketing trends that never took off

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Author: Lynsey Walden

…but should they have been given more of a shot?

Finding the right way to communicate your business message across the world is something that every business would like to do well. But, depending on who you want to target and how, the options can be mind-boggling.

For example, according to this article, there are 103 social media sites, 460 TV channels in the UK and 2,800 consumer magazines, so there are a lot of ways to target people.

To add to this, unless we are interested in a topic, most of us humans have an attention span of around 20 minutes. And researchers estimate that the adult attention span has decreased by about 12 minutes in the past decade due to technology and the fast pace of our lives.

So, it’s no surprise then, that marketing agencies and advertisers are always looking for new and innovative ways to grab the customer’s attention and to its credit, the industry has developed some super clever ways to deliver a brand message over the years and it’s this continuous challenge to get cut-through that keeps the ideas flowing.

But in this article, we take a look back at the more “flash in the pan” marketing gems, the ones that didn’t quite make the cut longer-term and see if maybe we dismissed these too soon??

The Eggvert

First up, the eggvert, a 90s advertising experiment that involved putting adverts on…eggs!! This advertising technique used high-pressure jet printers and food-grade ink to put “eggverts” on more than 30 million eggs. Back in the day, brands such as BT, Hovis, Channel 4 and Sky all used this method but by the late 1990s, the eggvert had sadly disappeared. At FD HQ, we think the egg-vert is a cracking idea and can’t understand why this didn’t take off. Think of all the other foods you could get your brand printed on?? The possibilities are endless.

The Cut-vert

Along similar lines, we move to something you could call “cutting edge marketing” where people literally used their haircuts to market a product. It’s hard to believe that models were once willing to let brands advertise their products or services on the back of their heads – aptly named the Cut-vert.

Even marketing guru Kanye West decided to give this a go when he used his head as advertising space in 2007 for high end fashion brand Fendi. The company paid a cool £10k for Kanye to get the Fendi logo etched into the rapper’s hair. After much research though, we failed to find any more examples of brands – or people – who used the cut-vert to get cut-through.


Going even further back than the eggvert, Fax-ads became a thing in the 1980s when the fax machine was popular in offices and homes across the globe.

You can just imagine the rejoice of marketeers when they realised that they could send an advertisement by fax and it would go directly into an office or home. No more relying on postal services or hoping that their carefully crafted leaflet would get past the doormat, the Fax-ad would ensure an ad got straight into the home.

However, this was unsurprisingly considered an imposition by most people who, quite frankly, didn’t ask for this, meaning that the fax-ad was largely regarded as a disreputable form of marketing.

So, it wasn’t long before the regulators put a stop to this one and, according to government legislation on the 1st of May 1999, it is now deemed unlawful to send an individual an unsolicited sales and marketing fax without any prior consent of the customer. However, if the fax receiver is a company, fax communications are permitted unless the subscriber has effectively unsubscribed from this type of communication.

But once again, after trawling the web for examples of the Fax-ad, we failed to find anything past the late 1990s.

Whilst the above marketing techniques went into the history books along with products such as Betamax, Apple Newton and the Ford Edsel, it’s important to recognise that without trying new things, we wouldn’t innovate and develop new ways to talk to consumers.

We may scoff at the egg-vert in these times, but who knows what this may have paved the way for? We will watch with interest and wait to see what new fangled fad the advertisers can come up with – the mind boggles.

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