Concentrate! Here comes the science bit

From the Brand Historian’s Timeline: 1989

The Daily Candy is a popular trend website that introduced us to its own wryly observed lexicon of words that don’t exist but should. Bluetoothsome is a word they coined to describe someone “so attractive that his/her hotness is not significantly diminished by the wearing of a Bluetooth earpiece.”

The first Bluetooth wireless devices started to appear in the early 2000s, but only after a long gestation by a computer technology industry struggling to make the wireless world happen. The confusing array of short-range wireless protocols from various competing players had threatened the technology’s commercial development, which is why the industry created a working party to agree upon a common approach. The Bluetooth Special Interest Group was set up in 1989, its project name drawing inspiration from the 11th-century Danish king called Harald Bluetooth. Harald had been highly successful at knocking disparate warlord heads together to forge an effective political and military unit. As so often happens, the project name became the actual launch brand name. In 2001, the first of several billion devices were launched, all of which carried the now familiar blue runic symbol, which cleverly combined King Harald’s initials.

Bluetooth is one of the most successful examples of ingredient/component branding: a business approach that seeks to add value to a host end-product by offering features and benefits which heighten the customer’s perceptions of quality or improve utility and performance. The name Bluetooth was suggested by Jim Kardach of Intel, who had been reading about Harald Bluetooth in a novel called The Long Ships

Intel, of course, is another example of a tech brand that understood the power of branded ingredients and had become part of popular culture thanks to the Intel Inside branding campaign of the 1990s. In a limited way, this campaign educated the mass consumer market about microchip processors and how to spot a good PC powered by the right chip.

In these examples, Bluetooth and Intel took complex science and technical detail, conveniently data reduced and summarised it, with a pithy campaign promise and a distinctive know-what-to-look-for logo. 

Brand ingredient marketing had first become highly fashionable following the 1980s launch of NutraSweet as an alternative sweetening system in the vast market for carbonated soft drinks. But in reality, it was nothing new. In 1965, Ray Dolby set up Dolby Laboratories and gave his name to intelligent Hi-Fi noise-reduction systems and cinema stereo sound. The Dolby B button sold a lot of tape decks in the 1970s, just as Wilbert and Robert Gore’s waterproofing system called Gore-Tex became the must-have feature in the clothes and footwear of everyone engaged in outdoor activities. The tobacco industry had tried cigarettes with NSM (new smoking materials). And 50 years before Jennifer Aniston introduced the world to L’Oréal’s Elvive with the immortal words, “Concentrate, here comes the science bit”, Gibbs SR, a Unilever brand of toothpaste that was the first brand to advertise on UK’s commercial TV, had extolled the tingling fresh benefits of SodiumRicinoleate, which I know from personal experience offered a truly bluetoothsome mouthfeel and smile.

1989 Working Party Anthem:

Eternal Flame The Bangles

2 thoughts on “Concentrate! Here comes the science bit

  1. And, PCW, the message or the learning that emerges from this fascinating piece of “branding history” is – what?

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