The King of Prussia executed citizens for not growing potatoes! Still they refused. What was his brilliant solution?
King Frederick the Great was leader of Prussia in the 18th century. Among the things he is less known for is his knack for marketing, which has been commented upon by historians.
The story goes that he wanted his subjects to grow potatoes. The problem was that the common people despised potatoes. Everything from the way they looked to the way they tasted made them disgusting in the eyes of the people. Things got so out of hand that records show people were executed for not following the order to grow potatoes!
So the government tried its hand at remarketing. They declared that the vegetable was royal food and banned others from having potatoes in their possession. A garden was planted and “guarded” to make it look as though potatoes were too good for anyone who wasn’t royalty.
To Frederick's delight (although this story has been attributed to other leaders), the plan worked. Before long, potatoes became commonly grown throughout the land.
There are important lessons here that relate to marketing, and in particular to the power of perception. So much of what is considered “good” or “bad” is based upon what society or government says, as opposed to what people are naturally inclined to think.