COLUMN: Value added marketing an old ploy

NANAIMO – Value added products and marketing get talked about a lot in B.C., but never seem to get off the ground in a big way.

Value added products and marketing get talked about a lot in B.C., but it we never seem to be able to pull it off here in a big way for some reason.

Gas and crude oil get shipped out of the country for processing, while cargo ship decks are stacked with entire forests for milling overseas.

The jobs of refining resources lie offshore while governments and labour organizations appear powerless to do anything about it.

Oh sure, we glue wood scraps together to make floor joists and roof trusses and smelt junked electronic circuit boards for their metals. I think we even recycle paper products into toilet tissue here too, but whether you call it recycling or down cycling is any of it leading toward some kind of value-added, job rich, economic Nirvana?

What surprises me is how some companies, big and small, have capitalized on marketing and manufacturing spin-off opportunities from basic concepts.

Take M&M candies for instance. Anyone who was born in the 1950s remembers the TV ads in the early ’60s. The ad tagline went something like “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand,” and a woman would open her white-gloved hand – in those days women often still wore gloves when they dressed up – to reveal a glove unstained by the two or three M&M’s she’d been holding.

Why make chocolate that doesn’t melt? Hot climates were where a lot of U.S. troops were fighting during the Second World War who needed an energy snack they could carry with them.

A side benefit of chocolate with a high melting point is riflemen wouldn’t get sticky trigger fingers from the candy.

Forest Mars, of the Mars Company, got the idea when he saw soldiers eating chocolate pellets with a hard shell during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

He developed a process for making M&M’s, but he needed Bruce Murrie of Hershey’s Chocolate – who got a 20 per cent share of the product – which had control of chocolate that was rationed in the U.S. in 1941 when the candy was developed.

So Mars and Murrie made a lot of money.

Want to see what M&M’s have become? Check out M&M World online.

The company has M&M stores in cities across the U.S. The store in Las Vegas, Nev., is four stories of nothing, but M&M’s products including clothing and accessories, games, souvenirs, home and office items.

Talk about value added. Down the road a ways one business capitalized on Americans’ love for Vegas weddings and guns. Shotgun Weddings by the Gun Store offers a, ahem, “range” of matrimonial wedding packages that include firing machine guns and other weapons to get couples started on their lives together with a real bang, so to speak. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself at http://shotgunweddings.com.

Speaking of ambush marketing, I’ll admit I’m no marketing genius, but I recognize good opportunities after brighter minds have spotted them and if I can’t capitalize on them I can at least enjoy watching the multi-million dollar corporate spats that often result, like the ones that erupted between Kodak and Fujifilm, Nike and Reebok and Visa and American Express at world Olympics over the past three decades that I’m confident will continue to entertain almost as satisfyingly as the sporting competition itself at future Olympics.

But I really appreciate the simple, direct approach when it comes to ensuring business success.

My all time favourite real world example of the old adage, location, location, location was in Seaside, Ore., where in 1995 I came across a taxidermy shop that had opened up right next door to a veterinary clinic.