Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jimmy Dean, Snickers and Betty White


Since we've been talking a spell, I have a confession to make.  I wish I were one of those organized types where I've a whole pile of posts ready for publishing at a moment's notice...  but I'm not.  There's something about the pressure or the adrenaline of publishing as I go not unlike the "last minute" style that served me well (though sometimes painfully) through grad school.  My parents tried everything to break me of the habit...  Clearly didn't work.  Sorry, Mom and Dad!

I write when I'm struck by a random comment, a tweet, a clicked link or even a friend's Facebook status caught during a moment of issue avoidance or what I like to call brianstorming.  Yes, today's post is thanks to my friend K's recent status and her ode to Jimmy Dean's breakfast commercials.  Here's what she wrote:

"I drop everything when there's a Jimmy Dean commercial on.  Have never eaten any JD products, but love the Sun as a character.  Just saw the one where he's helping an under-performing Thunder.  So cute."

She's right.  Those commercials are cute and maybe more important to Jimmy Dean, entertaining and watchable even more than once.  And, since you know I can't resist a chance to embed video, I'm going to share some of those ads with you.  The first one is the Jimmy Dean lightning and thunder commercial she mentioned.

Here's another with the solar system.  I get a kick out of this one, too.

There are a bunch of other ones on YouTube which you can find by writing "Jimmy Dean commercial" in the search box.  There's the break room, the rainbow, the fog, the eclipse and a couple with the sun and his family.  They're all about thirty seconds long so you can whip through them in no time.

Everyone has a different idea of what's funny.  What entertains me is imagining that weather elements and the solar system show up to a nondescript office everyday and interact with humans as if that's perfectly normal.  I also find it funny that the planets fall out of orbit because they didn't eat breakfast and fall back into alignment thanks to a breakfast sandwich.  It's so wacky yet it's a good way of making us wonder how we might fall out of alignment if we're hungry or low on energy.

Is there anything beyond cute and watchable in these commercials?  If you go back to K's Facebook status, probably not.  She's never eaten any Jimmy Dean product and doesn't indicate intent to try.  It's freemium and freemium only.  I've Googled to see if I can find Jimmy Dean breakfast sales performance since this campaign started but I've not hit the jackpot.  If you can point me to some, I'd appreciate it.

Why might this be the case?  To me, these feel like part of the agency's capabilities presentation or even a PSA for eating breakfast more than a commercial for Jimmy Dean breakfast casseroles.  "This is your body.  This is your body without breakfast.  Any questions?"  Generally speaking, the message is, if you want to keep up your energy, make sure you fuel your body.  That's in contrast to the only way or maybe even best way to fuel your body effectively is via a Jimmy Dean product which was the desired takeaway here.  Regardless of our personal view of the spots, we get so caught up in the gimmick that we completely overlook the brand and the product which is a complete no no.

One could say that the Snickers Super Bowl commercial with Betty White employs the same tactics as that of Jimmy Dean.  Betty White could be the Thunder or the Solar System Planets or any of the other characters in the commercials in need of energy.  The difference in impact is staggering, however.  Where the Snickers commercial succeeds is the quick change from Betty White to the guy playing football with not a whole ton of copy.  It doesn't belabor the point which would take our minds off the product and onto the wacky.  See:

The simple equation is Betty White + Snickers = Football Playing Dude which is the type of math that Jimmy Dean wanted.  That math works for Snickers because it was, pardon the pun, the center of the universe in that commercial.  It was disciplined and it didn't distract.  And, by all accounts, it was very highly regarded.  Some may argue that Betty White stole Snickers' thunder.  I disagree -- I think Snickers gave Betty White the ultimate guest starring role in its own television show which triggered the Facebook SNL page and, ultimately, her May 8 appearance on the show.

What's the lesson here?  A while back, I wrote this post that made the case for boring.  The premise then was that "Marketing" succeeds when we resist gimmicks and one-trick pony campaigns and ground our message using fundamental marketing principles.  In this case, it means respecting the brand and the brand promise while making it central to the message.  Assuming of course, the brand team and their agency mastered the brand personality and promise in the first place (I hope so).  Unfortunately for Jimmy Dean, I don't think this level of detail or discipline was achieved even though I do like the ads.

What's your view on this?  Send me your thoughts!


Parissa Behnia
Idea Chef

1 comment:

  1. Wholeheartedly agree. I love those commercials, too. The Sun character is a great picture of a motivator. However, as I watched the thunder and lightening commercial yesterday, I was asking "Why Jimmy Dean?" It's totally unhealthy--you haven't sold me that this is a nutritious way to start my day. Maybe it will give me the energy, but after a regular diet of Jimmy Dean breakfasts, I'd start to slow down from the weight gain. They entertain but fail to educate as to why Jimmy Dean breakfasts are such a great choice in the morning. I must confess, I've never checked the nutritional information on Jimmy Dean breakfasts. But, they haven't helped me out any. They've got my attention but failed to inform or change my opinion of the brand which only makes me think of greasy sausage.