Inglorious fruits and vegetables

Intermarché Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables

I love this Intermarché inglorious fruits and vegetables initiative. And great work by their agency, Marcel.

I spend 40+ hours a week in a 12-story building with four elevators.  I ride the elevator quite often, and I’ve observed an odd phenomenon: people regularly—and unintentionally—get off the elevator on the wrong floor.  (Yes, I’ve actually done this myself.)  This probably sounds familiar to you: no one’s speaking on the elevator, its cables are making odd creaking sounds, and you’re looking at your phone for no reason whatsoever.  FINALLY the bell dings and the door opens.  A crowd of people exits, and you mindlessly follow them out before noticing that this isn’t actually the floor you needed.  When that happens, you have two options:

  1. Immediately hop back on the elevator before the doors close, simultaneously undoing your mistake and announcing to everyone still on board that you are aloof.
  2. Keep walking with the crowd, PRETENDING that this is where you wanted to go in the first place.  Then break away, take the stairs or reboard the elevator, and walk/jog briskly to your intended destination (a few minutes late, perhaps, but with your pride intact).

Getting off on the wrong floor happens when we follow the crowd and don’t think about where exactly we want to go.  And wow…doesn’t that happen a lot in the business and nonprofit world?

I’ve come to have a greater appreciation for the stubborn organizations that stay aware of their intended destination and refuse to follow the competition just because (metaphorically) they’re all getting off the elevator on the same floor. Intermarché, the French supermarket, is a shining example of this practice.  Check out this fantastic video by Marcel, the agency that cooked up the Intermarché inglorious fruits and vegetables ad campaign:

Instead of of following everyone else off the elevator (perpetuating the use of rigid cosmetic standards to determine which fruits and vegetables could/should be sold), the Intermarché inglorious fruits and vegetables initiative asks, “What if people want natural produce…not just pretty produce?”

Other examples:

  • “Maybe we’re selling great service rooted in Christian values, not just chicken sandwiches.” (Chick-fil-A)
  • “What if people want good food but don’t need a restaurant experience?” (food trucks)
  • “Can we sell a hip, upscale environment where people gather, instead of just selling coffee?” (Starbucks)
  • “Lots of companies build clunky gadgets. What if we built premium, sleek, intuitive devices?” (Apple)
  • “Does decently-fashionable clothing have to be insanely expensive?” (H&M)
  • “Why isn’t there an ultra high-performance cooler?” (Yeti)
  • “Why do I need an office?” (the mobile workforce)

So…a challenge: Are you mindlessly following everyone else off the elevator without asking, “Is this where I really want to go?” Give me a shout, of course, if you’re looking to do something different—let’s put our heads together.  (Unless you can afford to hire Marcel, the agency behind the Intermarché inglorious fruits and vegetables campaign; in that case, calling them is probably a great idea.)  And feel free to use the comments section below to post your own examples of organizations who choose to zig when everyone else zags.

Hardee’s: Sex and thickburgers

Hardee's commercialWhile watching TV a few weeks ago, my wife uttered this curious little statement from the other room: “That was by far the raciest thing I’ve ever seen on broadcast television.” What had she just watched? A commercial. A Hardee’s commercial. Yes…that Hardee’s commercial for the Texas BBQ Thickburger. I’ve caught snippets of it since then, and yeah…it leaves little to the imagination.

My wife isn’t a prude. But we are thoughtful about what we watch and the impact that it might make on us…and we’re even more aware of it now that we have kids. We aren’t letter writers, angry Facebook posters, or outraged picketers. So her next comment—“I don’t think we’re ever going to Hardee’s again”—really piqued my interest from a marketing standpoint.

Since then, a handful of my wife’s friends have mentioned the Hardee’s commercial in conversation and made similar remarks about avoiding the restaurant in the future. This is a fairly small sample size, but it got me thinking about how the “using sex to sell thickburgers” approach is doomed to fail (over the long term, anyway) for the restaurant chain.

Here’s why. Hardee’s is advertising something on TV that it can’t deliver in its stores.  And no, I’m not just talking about the Texas BBQ Thickburger (although I’m sure it looks MUCH different in person than it does on television). The commercial oozes lust and carnal gratification. But have you been inside a Hardee’s restaurant recently? Is there anything about the boring uniforms, the regular-looking employees, the slightly slippery floors, or the metal-and-plastic furniture that connotes lust and carnal gratification? Were beautiful, scantily-clad women clutching cheeseburgers and washing pickup trucks in the parking lot? There’s a huge disconnect between what’s being advertised and what’s being delivered. Over time, this creates dissatisfaction and disappointment for customers.

And who’s the target audience for this spot? Needless to say, I’m doubtful that it resonates with women. Middle-aged dads probably aren’t going to start taking their families to Hardee’s after seeing the commercial, especially when Mom has veto power. (Hot tip for dads: avoid saying something like, “I saw this great commercial for a new burger at Hardee’s…let’s go get a few!”). That leaves men ages 16-30ish, older men who eat wherever the heck they want, and middle-aged dads who are out with the guys. And let’s be honest: if these men are looking for lust and carnal gratification in their dining experience, many sports bars, “delightfully tacky yet unrefined” wing restaurants, and—ahem—”gentlemen’s clubs” (their description, not mine) will deliver it more effectively than Hardee’s.

What are your thoughts on the new Hardee’s commercial? Is it effective? Post your comments below (no log-in required!).  As always, give me a shout if you’re trying to formulate a marketing campaign that represents your brand well.