Consider this: Weight Watchers claiming that diets are mean, Dove encouraging us to love our bodies despite their appearance and Tylenol informing us on how to avoid headaches. At first glance, it appears as if these companies don’t want us using their products. But go a little bit deeper, past the surface of their claims and you will see the newest trend in advertising: reverse marketing.

Reverse Marketing in the Weight Loss Industry

It’s a rare day when you pick up a magazine or watch television when you are not bombarded by an onslaught of weight loss advertisements and commercials. From diet pills touting themselves as the quick fix solution to weight loss to gyms advertising their workout programs designed to get you fit, to weight loss companies pitching their frozen, pre-packaged meals as the answer to a slimmer you.

All of these methods focus on one idea: that our imperfect body sizes need to be fixed and fast. We are repeatedly sent the message that our worth is derived from the number staring back at us on the scale. Throw in some bikini models and buff weight lifters, and this form of marketing has been an unquestionable success.

Weight Watchers shook things up, by introducing its Stop Dieting, Start Living campaign. This new marketing emphasizes the frustrations associated with dieting and focuses on promoting a healthy lifestyle as opposed to restricting foods and counting calories. In this way, the company is attracting those who have been previously unsuccessful with dieting and is also targeting those looking to improve their health, as opposed to achieving an unrealistic dress size.


In general, weight loss companies as a whole are starting to steer away from the “before and after” photo advertising campaigns that were once the industry standard. Their marketing now centers on healthy living, smart food choices and the incorporation of moderate exercise. By pitching from this angle, companies like Weight Watchers are encouraging their customers (and even more so, their potential customers) to ditch the diet trends, which do not work and follow their plan instead.

Reverse Marketing in the Beauty Industry

For years, beauty and cosmetic companies have marketed their wares to women (and infrequently men) under the guise that they have some kind of imperfection that their product will magically transform. Despite contributing to the body-image crisis that a large amount of the population faces, this tactic was also successful as far as sales figures were concerned. The bottom line reflected that the hard sell worked for these kinds of companies.

This all changed in 2004 when Dove began pitching its Campaign for Real Beauty by using normal, everyday women clothed in nothing but their undergarments, Dove has been the talk of the marketing world with their unique sales approach. Because their products are viewed by customers as being a more realistic representation of their product demographic, their sales have bypassed the $1 billion sales mark.

Dove has further expanded their groundbreaking marketing campaign to include ads that are geared toward women over 50 and encouraging the stereotypes of women in the beauty industry. By using real women and pitching self-esteem, as opposed to impossible perfection, Dove is becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Reverse Marketing in the Pharmaceutical Industry

Another industry that is maximizing profits by using reverse marketing is pharmaceuticals. Tylenol, one of the largest pain relievers in the world, has been promoting ways to stay healthy on their website. They go so far as to say, “we know that the answer doesn’t always come in a pill”. They also provide helpful advice to speed up the recovery process when you have a cold, offer ways to help you get a better nights sleep and ways to treat a child’s fever (all without using any of their products!).

Reverse marketing allows the companies to emphasize more with their target demographic, as opposed to going for the traditional hard sell approach. By using soft sales tactics, major companies are rethinking the way they market their products to the public.