Products You Can’t Save With Advertising
In addition to traditional advertising, I do a fair bit of direct response television, which gets as close to selling as you can in advertising. I haven’t done those late-night-like informercials per se, though I have done some long-form online video. I love informercials; they’re hilarious and what a challenge to keep someone’s interest for more than a few minutes. They also really get into the material to persuade.
What caught my attention recently though was an ad for a product that was so shocking, I spit out some tuna roll while watching it — Philadelphia Cooking Creme. The ad itself was a regular TV spot with demo and product announcement — totally normal and effective stuff. And product extensions off a popular brand aren’t new. What was unusual was the product itself. Cooking cream? I watched a creamy substance get added to a perfectly healthy-looking pasta salad. There’s four different flavors, too. Flavored cooking creams? I’m not sure if this is the future of food — or the past. I am pretty sure it’s kinda gross. Trying to be open-minded, I went to the Kraft site to see what was in it. It’s fairly high in both fat and sodium though people are only first learning now to check for both. I know dinner can get boring and people are time-pressed which is where the TV dinner came from, but c’mon America, learn a little healthy and natural.
But there other products that also surprise me, so I organized them in some categories:
The Doggie Treadmill: There’s nothing quite like the smile on our dog Ezra’s face when he is running but a treadmill for dogs? And there are several ones out there, from top-shelf Orvis brand to regular old Jog A Dog.
Products you don’t need
Your best bet for bizarre products you don’t actually need is none other than SkyMall. For example, I found Wine Glass Holder Necklace. Not sure how to advertise this if I had to, though it clearly has a USP of the aroma right under your nose.
Finally here but do we want it?
Samsung Wi-Fi Refrigerator: At CES in January, Samsung debuted its new Wi-Fi Refrigerator. This caught my eye since it was back in 1998 when I was at digital hotshop (now dead) Blue Marble ACG that I stayed up all night writing a script about the future and how you’d have a fridge that could use the internet reorder your milk for you. It was very AT&T ‘You Will‘. So it’s great that the wi-fi fridge is here, but I’m just not sure it’s going to stick. It seems like we do want the internet everywhere and integrated into our appliances but some of it is superfluous. Do I need to see my Twitter feed while I’m grabbing the milk? See the Mashable review here. Maybe I’m wrong. After all, AT&T was right.
Political product that doesn’t work as it’s advertised
Communism: It was such a good idea at the time, and it’s tempting to re-market it — i.e., This is not your father’s communist party. Problem is, it’s gotta really work well somewhere to take hold. Still, this would make a great spec campaign in a entry level portfolio. I’d love to see how a creative would sell it.
Found on the search engines
Rozerem: I did a search for ‘worst products honored’ and found a pill allegedly marketing as “Sleeping pills for children” in 2007 but I think has wisened up since. I think this was also the product that did those weird commercials with President Lincoln and a woodchuck.
It’s just not going to work
Some friends and colleague tell me AOL belongs in this boat of questionable products. To be fair, though, America Online has been through many lives and I’ve been there for most of them. Remember the iconic “You’ve got mail!” and those goofy addresses we all had like vanity license plates? And back then, it was often our last name then first initial? I was once embarrassed to have an AOL address, was kicked off for promoting a competing service (my local ISP, NYCNET) and then for a brief period, it was becoming cool. It was even hyphenated: America On-Line. AOL is once again in a period of reinvention, so don’t count them out yet. But it’s not going to be the ads for it that define it but the product itself.
Finally I tweeted the question “Products you can’t save with advertising?” out to see what others might say. Please add yours too. @adamwohl suggested Jeffrey Dahmer cookbooks. My colleague Diego (@workforfood) had a pithy answer for products you can’t advertise: Advertising.
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