May 4, 2011

Don’t buy our product

Miracle Whip

Miracle Whip's current campaign

Advertising used to have one goal: to make you buy a product. But recent campaigns from big names like Miracle Whip and Domino’s are taking the opposite path. They are spending big chunks of time, space and money to tell us that lots of people hate them.

Jay Sinha, a marketing professor at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, calls this “anti-marketing,” arguing that traditional advertising no longer works because consumers have become jaded from years of heavy-handed promotional tactics. Instead, he says, more successful techniques should be simple, straightforward and truthful — even if the truth isn’t pretty. I’m not sure I completely agree with Professor Sinha, but I am a big fan of making your brand stand out in the marketplace. Telling me why your product isn’t that great definitely makes me sit up and take notice (even if it doesn’t make me buy).

In Miracle Whip’s new TV spots, celebrities such as the Jersey Shore’s Pauly D and political commentator James Carville join “everyday” people to proclaim their love — or hate — of Miracle Whip. Pauly D says that he hates Miracle Whip so much that if he had a girlfriend who liked it, it would be a “dealbreaker.” But Carville lovingly details how his favorite sandwich begins with a voluminous spread of the product.

The Domino’s campaign, which launched more than a year ago, began by showing feedback from real people, including focus groups noting that the crust tastes like cardboard, and photos of unappetizing pizzas sent in by dissatisfied customers. The ads have since evolved to show what Domino’s did to address these complaints, and how the brand’s new recipes are winning back old customers — and a fair amount of new ones, too.

One thing these campaigns have in common is you either love them or hate them. As a PR person, I love them! Buzz-generating advertising lends itself to so many great PR opportunities, and is a terrific example of how public relations and advertising can (and should) work hand in hand to generate successful results for a client. In Domino’s case, the initial risk ended in a true feel-good story: company listens to customers, company turns profit, everybody’s happy. Miracle Whip’s strategy has already led to an engaging social media campaign that lets consumers weigh in on the love/hate debate via Facebook.

So what do you think? Do these ads make you sit up and take notice? And if they do, it is for the right or wrong reasons?

Check out some of the ads here: