It's the story that fills the dreams of marketing executives: an ad campaign that vaulted Marlboro from girly cigarette to symbol of manliness. Back in the 1950s, Marlboro was considered a women's cigarette, so ads were created showing men working on cars or flying airplanes and later, with the image that stuck, the Marlboro Man. As noted in Ad Age, sales jumped more than 3,200 percent in the campaign's first year.
Marlboro was just one of many examples where companies have attempted to move in on a new market that happens to comprise half of the population. From perfume and diet plans to sports cars and beer, companies have spent millions trying to appeal to the other sex.
Sometimes the marketing ploys flop. Nike found that women didn't respond to superstar spokespeople like men did. Jenny Craig was not remade as the new manly diet company upon hiring Jason Alexander, "George Costanza" on Seinfeld, as a spokesman. Similarly, diet soda has long been difficult to sell to men, with numerous notable failures. A recent ad campaign for a diet beverage aimed at men went for directness: "Dr. Pepper 10," yells the male voice of a television ad. "It's not for women!"
Read on to see some of the best gender-bending campaigns, and a few of the worst.