Food Advertisers Hide Product in Plain Sight

Cola Cola Open Happiness Campaign

Cola Cola Open Happiness Campaign

“So?”, (as former VP Dick Cheney was heard to remark), it has come to this? The latest marketing idea is not to mention the product at all. Brilliant!

Alfred Hitchcock knew a Psycho shadow was much more scary than a real live, but deranged person.

I mention this turn of affairs because it’s reported in the New York Times that “commercials for Coca-Cola are sometimes so completely shrouded by storytelling that viewers can make a game of brand-spotting.”

This seems to be some sort of line extension beyond: Where is Waldo; Where has South Carolina Governor Sanford been/is going; Who Killed Michael Jackson and assorted mysteries of the universe.

We’ve come a long way since the concept of USP meaning, of course, Unique Selling Position. All major brands have one i.e. Quaker Oats, McDonald’s Golden Arches, Aunt Jemima, Disney, Mario Batali etc.

Perdue Farms had a great slogan: “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken.” The company took a chicken little operation into a giant empire. Founder Frank Perdue knew more about chickens than anyone and was doubly credible because he looked so much like a chicken that he was able to sell himself.

You could say that he transformed the utopian idea of “a chicken in every pot” to “a chicken in every pot cheap! cheep!” For a quick check of the website tells us, “With annual sales in excess of $4.1 billion, Perdue today is ranked as the third largest poultry company in the U.S. We provide food and agricultural products and services to customers in more than 50 countries.”

Coca-Cola and Pepsi Co, Dr Pepper and the Snapple Group are just part of an even more vast enterprise. The U.S. beverage manufacture and bottling industry includes about 3,000 companies with a combined annual revenue of $70 billion.

With this kind of clout, no wonder the thoughtful food advertisers have opted to hide in plain sight.

Note: Water is on tap for virtually nothing at all. This has led to such value-added products as beer, wine, spirits, tea, coffee and onion soup that are Mmm Mmm good… to the last drop.

Food advertising is a $7.5 billion industry, second only to automobile advertising. It is an industry continually in search of copy writers and graphic designers; Webby award-winning website designers, food stylists and food photographers; recipe writers and special event and promotion pros — with fresh ideas.

An article in the archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine Studies show that children are much more likely to want to eat food that comes in branded packaging than food with no branding – even if it is the same product. For example, a study of 3 to 5 year-olds showed that 76.7% of children preferred French fries in McDonald’s branded wrapping compared to 13.3% preferring plain packaging when in fact, the food was exactly the same!

And for every $1 the World Health Organization spends on trying to improve the nutrition of the world’s population, $500 is spent by the food industry in promoting processed food.

If you would like to step into this business, you should begin by reading the trade magazine, Advertising Age as well as the website Media Bistro.

One thought on “Food Advertisers Hide Product in Plain Sight

Comments are closed.