Do not try to convince me that bread is the new broccoli

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By Leo Valiquettevegetablebread

There are times when I just can’t bear it anymore and must out the egregious examples of advertising I see on the Boob Tube. While the culprits are often not selling B2B technology products or services, I still believe there are cautionary tales that are relevant for this blog. (Maybe it’s because I am a writer of fantasy genre fiction in my spare time, where metaphor is often used as a vehicle for social and political commentary.)

Now don’t get me wrong. I enjoy as much as anyone, clever and amusing commercials that deliberately redefine “absurd” and couldn’t possibly be taken seriously.

But for this installment, I will aim both barrels at the habit some big brands have of taking their consumers for unsophisticated idiots. Granted, a certain percentage likely are, but that doesn’t mean you should base an entire marketing or advertising campaign on that premise. The likely result, is that you will annoy and alienate a substantial portion of your target audience.

Dempster’s Garden Vegetable Bread

This one almost gives my typing fingers a seizure. It came out in the spring and provoked a wave of scorn across social media. I thought it had mercifully faded away, but it invaded my television again last week.

If you want vegetables, then eat vegetables. Don’t eat two slices of bread because it will give you a grand total of one half serving of vegetables.

It’s not the very concept of this crass grab at consumer’s dollars that irks me. It’s the commercial that launched the product. It takes place on a photo set, where supermodels and lean metrosexual men are shocked to see one of their ilk, eating an actual sandwich instead of a handful of greens.

But consider why this clique would be avoiding bread in the first place – because of all of those evil wheat-born carbs. Stuff all of the ground veggies into the loaf that you want, those carbs are still there. Real supermodels and other health-conscious types concerned about their intake of sugar and carbs still wouldn’t touch a slice. Dempster’s is taking advantage of what it perceives to be, the ignorance of its marketplace. It is courting the typical time-challenged consumer, concerned about their health and getting their kids to eat their veggies, but who doesn’t really understand what constitutes proper nutrition.

In case you missed it, the Globe and Mail ran a piece on the growing marketing trend by food processors to pander to consumers looking for healthier quick-and-easy food choices. My favourite part of the article quotes Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, obesity expert and professor in the department of medicine at the University of Ottawa, who condemns the industry’s efforts to foster a “naturalistic fallacy.”

It doesn’t much matter if it’s bread, biometric scanners or Bluetooth gizmos, a strong and effective marketing campaign is based on real and credible product claims, and treats its target audience as informed consumers. Fallacy isn’t part of the equation.

There are reams of advice out there on how to effectively lever social media, maximize the impact of e-mail marketing, and turn the expertise embedded throughout your organization into meaningful content. But it all begins with understanding your target audience, their needs, motivations and burning pain points, and speaking to those in a respectful and sincere fashion.

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