Friday, July 17, 2009

Pretty Tricky, These Advertisers

As a lifelong marketer, I know I pay a lot more attention to the advertisements I see around me than most people. Recently two TV ads in particular have attracted my interest and inspired me to the topic for this post.

Wow — triple hops!
The first is
this ad for Miller Lite beer. Anyone who watches television must certainly have seen this by now as they have been everywhere with it for a number of months. Their information made me curious, so I searched for online information about the role of hops in beer — and learned that hops are almost always added three times, that this is the standard for brewing.

While Miller manages to make it sound impressive, the truth is, that’s just how you make beer. In fact, John Palmer’s book about brewing,
How to Brew instructs readers to add hops three times during brewing because hops are divided into three different types: bittering hops, flavor hops and aroma (or finishing) hops.

But Miller counts on the average beer drinker not actually knowing very much about beer. Some beer-fan blogs have pointed out the truth, but the broader consumer world is quiet on the subject. And they're still running the ad.

No wonder they call it the cheesiest

The second spot that has more recently caught my attention is for Kraft's ubiquitous macaroni and cheese, the favorite of kids everywhere. For years — more than I can recall — Kraft has used the branding tagline, "the cheesiest." Now they've performed a brilliant sleight-of-hand maneuver and expanded that tagline to "No wonder they call it the cheesiest!"

But who is the "they" in this statement? The company themselves! They've called their product "the cheesiest" for so long they hope none of us notice that the designation is really just a part of their own advertising armory! In fact, a quick glance at the official ingredient panel for the product proves that there is truly precious little cheese int he product, as most adults have known since we were old enough to think about it.

Now, as a marketing professional, I acknowledge that a lot of what is said in advertising falls within a broad expanse of "what you can get away with." In both these instances, the companies have shown sharp wits in selecting their themes and building on them: making statements that sound larger than they are and assuming no one will think very deeply about the meaning of the statements themselves. So I'll give them props for that ... but with a wink and a nod, because I can see the magician's secret.

What ads attract your notice as slick twists of reality? I'd love to hear from you.

Thanks for participating.

Jan Thomas
The Communication Heretic