Lessons learned by marketing controversial products and services http://www.overgovideo.com/blog/lessons-learned-by-marketers-in-controversial-fields via @overgostudio

Have you ever thought about what it’s like to market a certain product or service that not everyone loves? Ever wondered about a marketer’s thought process for coming up with tactics to get a niche audience to buy something controversial? It’s not easy…

Statistic Brain lists the annual revenue of the firearm industry as $11 billion across all gun and ammunition manufacturing. Guns may seem like a hard marketing sell, but it’s not the only controversial industry raking in big sales. The weight loss industry, online gambling and e-cigarettes are all rapidly growing despite a tricky marketing sell. Here’s what they’re doing right.

Markeing Weight Loss – A “Weighty” Proposition

The weight loss industry earns an annual $60 billion dollars and is quickly growing. There are dozens of major players marketing for weight-loss dollars, but Weight Watchers alone rakes in an annual revenue of more than $1.2 billion. How?

Weight Watchers markets itself as a flexible alternative to depriving diets, eagerly allowing members to eat anything they want, as long as they follow a points system that ranks different food from fruits to chocolate cake.

But unlike many other weight loss companies, Weight Watchers also gives you cheat points so you can step out now and again without backsliding. They essentially turn their system into a lifestyle as opposed to a food-depriving diet.

Beyond providing members with a non-restrictive diet plan, Weight Watchers has an exclusive collection of branded products (from entrees to ice cream) found in grocery store freezer aisles. They market their products as an even easier way to follow their program with their points rating right on the packaging.

But what’s really behind their point system? It’s really just basic nutrition and portion control; but they make the solution seem complicated—they have the answer. Members gravitate toward the program’s flexibility and the complex points keep them coming back for the easy, pre-packaged food and online tools to track their progress.

Gambling and Gaming – Marketing a “Vice”

Online gaming and gambling (also called iGaming) is already a booming business in Europe, reports Forbes. As more U.S. states legalize intrastate online gambling in Nevada and New Jersey, experts at GamblingData see the industry poised to rake in $7.5 billion by 2017 nationwide. The industry hasn’t come without its roadblocks and hiccups with legislation slow to pass and government leaders trying to block its progress.

But the noise about taking down online casinos and gaming sites doesn’t seem to bother industry leaders. Gambling site Betfair and Trump Plaza casino ran a TV spot to explain how online gambling works to help educate the public.

Because the legal online gaming industry hasn’t been a staple in the U.S., sites are spending big to continually run ads that repeat its messaging. There are also sites like OnlineCasinoBlueBook.com that list legitimate online casinos in Nevada and New Jersey. It helps take the guesswork out of online gambling in the U.S.

One controversy of advertising gambling sites is the concern of encouraging gaming addictions, as reported on NJ.com. Partnering casinos are working on safeguards to offer help get addicts help and keep them offline. These safeguards lead to a stronger marketing message for having fun while staying safe.

Unlike a brick and mortar casino that allows anyone of legal age to walk in and start gambling, online casinos have more safeguards in place to verify your identification. They also set spending, deposit and time limits to suppress addictive behavior.

E-cigarettes Take a Cue From The Traditional

E-cigarettes has grown into a nearly $1.5 billion dollar industry despite their controversial foundation of traditional tobacco cigarettes. As cigarette sales continue to drop, manufacturers of Marlboro and Camel are launching an electronic version to appeal to more health conscious crowds. The idea is the new vaporized version is safer and less toxic than cigarettes.

To rapidly market and grow their business, cigarette manufacturers went to the same convenience store outlets as where they found their original audiences. They’ve since moved into specialized vape shops that sell both vapors and colorful vaporizers. Manufactures also market their products with fun new flavors. Hundreds of new flavors hit the market each month to entice loyal and new customers with choices like peppermint making it hard to want to stop at just traditional nicotine flavors.


Controversial products are… well, they’re controversial. And marketing for these products isn’t always easy but many industries have found a way to gain customers regardless. Most of the time the marketing for these products has to go hand-in-hand with a cautionary or warning message. But despite the odds these businesses have all learned to thrive. So what’s the takeaway from this? If these controversial businesses can do it, so can you!