Hellmans mayonnaise

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I found a little piece of scratch paper in my pile with this quote on it:

“Customers who share your values will be attracted to your brand and are likely to become loyal to your brand and even enthusiastic advocates.” 

The quote was by Brad Van Auken of Forbes.

If you believe this statement raise your hand.  As they say in NY, if you believe this statement “I have a bridge to sell you.” It’s a nice sentiment, but not something brand planners should be concerning themselves with. Brand planks are a marriage of “good-ats” and “care-abouts” — what a brand is good at and what customers care about.  

Unless you are good at values, as a non-profit might be, it’s best to focus brand strategy on tangible product benefits. Leave the values for the PR and corporate responsibility departments.

If you do go the value route, the values you pick are going to be noncontroversial and values others are likely to pick. I’m not being insensitive here just pragmatic. I don’t buy Hellman’s mayonnaise for values. I don’t drink Voodoo Ranger for values. I don’t buy Marmot tents for values. Values are nice, but they are not a brand’s day job.

If you are in a meeting with a brand shop and they’re going on and on about value-based brand planks, and charitable give-backs, politely bit them adieu. I’m sure they’re wonderful, generous people, but they have, likely, never build a resolute brand.


PS. Charity work and sustainability are important, they are just not brand planks. For examples write steve@whatstheidea.com.



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There is a new story today that suggests tomatoes have no taste because they’ve been genetically engineered to look good.  Brilliant red tomatoes with nary a color blotch, piled high in our grocery stores because of a gene mutation that has said “buh-bye” to flavor, sweetness and aroma.

I wonder if advertising has been genetically engineered to look pretty, the result of which has been impeded selling. Have we removed the important selling component of thoughtful copy in favor of pretty pictures?  Has the flavor gone out of our copy. The sensual response that good copywriting can evoke?  I fear the answer is yes.

To sell one must do more than convey, one must connect and inspire.

At Cannes, mightn’t we instate a copywriting award?  RU listening creative leaders?  (David  Lubars?) Let’s loose the robo-copy and build more artful selling. Put that on you BLT with light Hellman’s.  Peace!

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What is heroic about Miracle Whip? What is heroic about the North Shore LIJ Health System? One is a dollop on a sandwich, another is a healthcare org that saves lives. What is heroic about Windham Mountain?  Actually, in the winter the resort has a program for the physically challenged – that’s pretty heroic.

In brand planning I love probing consumers for heroes and pride; rich areas that get to the heart of a person.  Yet many planners ask questions such as “Tell me how you use mayonnaise?” “What’s your favorite sandwich and why?”  “Share with me a story about the best place you ever ate a sandwich?” All nice tactical questions, but not brand plank questions.  And don’t get me wrong, not every brand has or needs heroic traits. In fact, for mayonnaise the notion is silly. But an ad about a kid who stands up to a bully in the school cafeteria and is rewarded with a tasty sandwich may be compelling to a mom.  Context.

Sometimes a brand plank may not have endemic value — it may be aspirational and tangential. It may not relate to heroics or pride but align with other human emotions.  As brand planners, we have to organize brand planks with hard values and soft values.  Just the right amount of lemon can turn Miracle Whip into Hellman’s. Hee hee. Peace!    


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ContagiousMagazine.com has a neat story today on a Hellman’s Mayonnaise campaign to publicize the growing consumer trend to eat local. The campaign is up and running is Canada. Eating local food – food not trucked or flown in from hundreds or thousand of miles away – may not always make economic sense, but it makes environmental sense. Locally grown food is fresher, tastes better, provides local jobs and keeps transportation emissions and energy consumption down.


Have you ever tasted a pepper or lettuce from your own garden or a bass from local waters? The improved taste is not psychological, it’s real. So will Hellman’s mayonnaise taste better on a locally grown tomato?  You bethca. Not only is Hellman’s doing the right thing with this new “Eat Right. Eat Local” campaign, they are doing the tastes better thing.  I mean would you really want to put Miracle Whip on a tomato that’s two hours off the vine?


Good job Hellman’s. It’s a fine cause and an important cause. (One minor quibble, money raised from the campaign shouldn’t go toward improving the quality of life in Canadian cities. Put it into farms.) Peace!

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