I like a lot of T.V. Shows. LOST, The Office, there’s a lot on that’s good. But as someone in advertising and marketing there is only one show that appeals to my advertising mind… AMC’s Mad Men.
In the pilot episode Madison Avenue advertising man “Don Draper” is working on coming up with an ad campaign for Lucky Strike cigarettes. It seems, in the show, that the government has suddenly made it so cigarette companies can no longer claim any health benefits. Not only that, but “new” research is indicating that tobacco is linked to lung cancer. Well, obviously the cigarette honchos are up in arms about this. But, our hero, Don Draper pulls one out of thin air when he tells Lucky Strike not to say anything but, “It’s Toasted.”
“Advertising is based on one thing,” Don says. “Happiness… Everyone else’s tobacco is poisonous, but Lucky Strike’s is ‘toasted.'”
This is based on a real campaign ran by Lucky Strike cigarettes. The campaign, however, was originally ran in 1917, not the early 60’s. But the moral remains true. Why even admit, or mention, something bad about your company / product / service when you can simply point out something that makes you different… even if it’s not different at all. This is what I truly wish the Corn Refiners Association would have done with their recent campaign.
In case you haven’t seen it, the CRA has launched a campaign combating the negative hype that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) has gotten. Their approach is to take everything bad everyone has said about HFCS and argue with it. Their ads show people being confronted by friends about eating products with HFCS in them and then rebutting with statements like, “What’s wrong with it? It’s made from corn…” The announcer then says to “get the facts.”
I’m not saying anything bad, or good, about HFCS here. I certainly wish the CRA and their families and friends a wonderful sticky future. I will comment on this approach however, as I believe it’s exactly what they should have never done.
There are 2 types of people in the world of HFCS… those who eat it and don’t care, and those who will never eat it (again). Both camps have one thing in common — there’s nothing you’re going to do to change their minds.
So, what is this advertising campaign going to do if not persuade people that HFCS is okay? I believe it’s going to simply point out that some people think it’s NOT okay. Suddenly there are people eating pop-sicles and drinking “red-drink” all over the country who will see these ads and think, “Yeah… I should get the facts.” The problem is they’re not going to only go to the CRA’s “SweetSurprise.com“… at least most of them won’t. They will, instead, go to the internet as a whole. They’ll go to friends, family, books, and every other resource they can find. And, when you go to all those resources you find the arguments from the other side. Something the CRA, or any product / service / company, really doesn’t want to happen.
My suggestion? Simple. A “Target” style ad that simply shows happy people enjoying things that have HFCS in them. Name brand things. Things people can’t live without. Not “red-drink.” Then, at the end of it all… one word appears on screen… “Yummy!” as the announcer says, “Brought to you by High Fructose Corn Syrup.”
Why point out anything bad that’s said about you? Why not, instead, simply be “toasted?”