Is it just me or are the most brilliant examples of marketing invariably those commissioned to sell the most reprehensible, unpleasant or just plain awkward of products and services?
I guess this is why the Gruen Transfer has proven to be such a smash hit for the ABC (and ‘must watch’ TV among the Anthill crew).
For example, its regular segment The Pitch pits two advertising agencies against each other with an invitation to sell the unsellable — to create advertisements on topics ranging from whaling to enthanasia.
Just watching The Pitch arouses a strangely pleasant cynicism. This is perhaps because the ‘fictional’ spots often stray dangerously close to the truth.
In August last year, as a case in point, the caersatirical commentary program unintentionally became a serious, political production house for the Greens when Sydney agency Republic of Everyone was tasked to convince mainstream voters to switch their votes to a minor party.
The ad received such positive reviews that The Green Party formally requested permission to commercially use the ad. (The ABC later knocked back the request.)
Selling the Unpleasant
This week, I stumbled across a marketing message that could have earned itself a place in the Gruen Transfer’s Pitch Hall of Fame. But this piece of creative packaging was not created to humour our inner-cynics. No, it was created to sell ‘caged eggs’.
I don’t know about you, but I particularly like the artful use of the wire-ring egg holders — modern, aesthetic, while subtlely conveying the message, ‘Our chooks live behind bars.’
But the imagery barely competes with the copy:
I already feel better about buying this carton of eggs, knowing that Lodge Farms’ chickens ‘live in a safe and stable environment with constant access to fresh water and feed.’ (I attempted to take the above ‘happy snaps’ in the supermarket but the strange looks I received drove me and my ‘conscientious purchase’ to the check-out.)
The packaging also inspires me to feel like somewhat of a saviour to those hens.
If it wasn’t for me, those chickens might be forced to make it on their own in the wild, battling for food, fighting off predators, with little more that their tiny, domesticated talons and feathery bravado.
Yes, thanks to my purchase, these chickens will receive constant (and I mean ‘constant’) access to fresh water and feed. In fact, that’s something that they’ll get a lot of, feed (at the expense of just about everything else).
Truth in Advertising
I’m not sure what ‘target audience’ this message was designed to influence.
Perhaps it was created to appeal to the ambivalent. Perhaps it was designed to fool the rushed or easily deceived. (I’ve watched A Current Affair. And it scares me.) Perhaps the copy was simply cobbled together to ensure that the carton didn’t look so bare.
Or perhaps (as I like to think), it was created in a moment of silent rebellion, by a jaded marketing employee, in an attempt to achieve that rare of all things in ad land: Truth in advertising.
Just maybe, the mastermind behind this carefully crafted item of egg-inspired ephemera is, like me, a fan of 1990s cult comedy classic Crazy People, starring Dudley Moore (and unforgettable scenes like this):
So, is this good marketing?
While I suspect that this creative piece of packaging won’t win any industry awards anytime soon, it nevertheless prompts me to ask the question:
Could this be the best (or worst) piece of marketing you’ve seen all year?
The year is still young. But admit it. You’re impressed, right?