The Jackie-O and the Pillbox Hat Wave
The Pillbox hat has been around for a long time, initially a part of uniforms they shot to fame when the former First Lady of the United States, Jacqueline Kennedy, started stepping out wearing one frequently. This was not a marketing gimmick on her part, however, the fashion houses were quick to pick up on the demand by recognizing the marvelous opportunity - women wanted to feel like the First Lady and what better way to do that than wearing her signature style! Jacqueline Kennedy, hence, inadvertently became a marketing tool for the pillbox hat industry.
Marketing, a department that deals with customers arguably more than any other domain of business, as a subject is taught in most bachelor’s and master’s level courses, for instance, bachelor’s of business management and bachelor’s of business administration. It is the process of engaging customers and turning them into profitable relationships by persuading the right audience to buy the right product through a wide variety of tools like advertisements, digital and offline promotions and publicity.
In the modern world, the principles of marketing have significantly evolved. We now use social media, influencers, celebrity endorsements, online marketing, print and TV advertisements, and many more avenues. But, let’s go back in time a little, in the era where John F. Kennedy was the President and Jackie Kennedy donned the pillbox hat as her signature style. There was only print, TV or radio available to disseminate any kind of information.
Jaqueline Kennedy was the face of the United States. All eyes were on her - the media noticed and reported every tiny detail. The fashion magazines across the world took every chance they got to report on the way she dressed, and the raving reviews about her sense of style made women demand pillbox hats for themselves! Everyone wanted to be Jackie-O. All of this clubbed together made pillbox hat a sensational hit and this accidentally became a marketing campaign in itself.
The basic element of a marketing campaign is to understand the needs, desires and wants of the customer. In the case of the pillbox hat, the manufacturers did not have to dig very deep - they just had to jump on the bandwagon of producing them. Every woman in the western world wanted to imbibe the Jaqueline Kennedy vibe, they desired to be what Kennedy represented. Management guru Peter Drucker said, “The aim of marketing is to make selling unnecessary.” The media coverage on the former First Lady’s style was so tremendously positive and sensational that the milliners did not even have to advertise their products; they got famous on their own accord.
This ‘pillbox hat wave’ also represents the concept of disguised marketing. Although there was no marketing involved, it still was similar to a huge campaign if we look at the larger picture. Disguised marketing implies choosing multiple messaging for the same product. Some women chose to buy pillbox hats simply as a style statement and some bought it because it was iconic and was easily recognized as the First Lady’s style. There were also customers that bought the hat to show solidarity in difficult times like when the former President, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.
Marketing is deeply embedded in everyone’s life - be it a producer, a consumer or a middleman. Our style - the way we dress and accessorize - is a way for us to market ourselves and in turn, flaunt the products. In modern times, almost all fashion houses from the smallest to the biggest have influencers that talk about their products and urge their followers to buy them. And in the case of Jacqueline Kennedy, she was an influencer of her era, not by choice but sheerly because of the watchful eyes of the world and the media!.