Wednesday, 25 June 2008

A kiss is just a kiss… which is beside the point.

Heinz and mayonnaise, two subjects close to my heart.

Actually I prefer salad cream, (which incidentally is much, much better for you than Mayonnaise), its so much more evocative of childhood for me, which is why I think Heinz hit the nail on the head with the ‘Pourable sunshine’ angle last year. This year, however, with their recent mayonnaise ad, they seem to have caused a bit of a stir.

Over the last few days the press is aflame with stories of hundreds of complaints made about the Heinz ‘Gay Kiss' advert - correctly called the Heinz 'Deli Mayo' advert… hundreds being 200 hundred – which when you think about what it takes to make people pick up the phone these days is not a number to be sniffed at.

Debate around the issue seems to centre around whether a gay kiss is appropriate for a family product or if it is indeed a gay kiss. For me this is to miss the point… but for the sake of form;

No the UK population shouldn’t have a problem with two men kissing – but they seem to.
No it isn’t a ‘gay’ kiss, any more than when Blackadder kissed Baldric (Series 2 episode 4) or when Alex Zane kissed Dave Berry during Xfm’s Iron man contest or when any number of UK comedy duos have done the same over the years.
Yes the ad was shown ex kids anyway to comply with HFSS legislation.

All of this is beside the point.

An advert is a form of communication designed to achieve an objective, usually to sell product but often (obviously) to build brand, encourage a behaviour etc.
Creating a brilliant advert entails looking at the people you’re advertising to and judging what (rightly or wrongly) they find acceptable, and then using this insight to create your ad (obviously there are a million other influencing factors – but for me consumer insight is paramount).
Some cultures will happily tolerate two men kissing, some won’t. Some will happily accept nudity in ad (which is why Jasper Carrot, then Chris Tarrant made good money showing naughty ads from around the world for years and years). Sadly middle England is one of those cultures that won’t.

And for me this is the weakness in the advert.

For some reason someone somewhere overlooked the reaction of middle England, to two men kissing (particularly when juxtaposed with a brand like Heinz).
As such it’s not a great idea for an advert. But it is a lovely execution of the idea.
And before we start... t’s not the fault of the British public. It’s just a bit of a miscalculation.

The shame of it all is that I love it.
I think it’s a great balance of homey product and modern life. It depicts really well, bringing the New York deli to the kitchen and I’d buy it… in fact I will this weekend, just to prove a point.
And happily I am in the target audience… I am our household’s main shopper.

One of Heinz big successes over the last year or so has been its willingness to take risks, to update their brand. In ATL communications this has meant creating really strong, fresh work. In NPD it’s meant developing relevant new products.

I really hope that this experience doesn’t stop them doing it in future. So if anyone is listening... Heinz, keep on doing what you’re doing (just with less snoggy bits)… middle England will catch up one day.

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