The things they say…

Leafing through the latest mag from the Market Research Society (yes I know, I need to get out more) I found this comment in an article on humour. It’s made by Danny Josephs of the agency that does the ads for Tango. This a celebrated and controversial campaign here in the UK, for a range of fizzy drinks. Most of the ads involve slapstick hits of one sort or another. Most ad people hold it up as a triumph of the art.

Anyway, here is Danny’s comment.

Tango is about the real hit of the fruit. Without the product it’s just a sponsored gag from Tango – and that’s not good enough

Well, it’s a memorable campaign. And Danny may be in many ways a lovely chap. But here he is talking complete bollocks. If we’re going to use the real word, can we at least acknowledge that a fizzy drink with vast amounts of additives and CO2 cannot possibly convey the real hit of the fruit. I also find it absurd that Danny pretends to champion this product with his “that’s not good enough” line. Like the ads wouldn’t work for any other fizzy drink with the money to spend!

Bizarrely, John Grant in his book The New Marketing Manifesto, holds Tango up as an example of authenticity. Give me a break. If the admen continue to flog us Tango and Sunny Delight as if these things have real value, then little wonder no-one believes the ads any more. Wasn’t it Scott Fitzgerald who described something valueless as the biggest waste of talent outside of an ad agency ?

It reminds me of a great story, of a turning point in his marketing career, told by Rob Earls. This is in his entertaining book Welcome to the Creative Age. He stopped at a service station in East Anglia and found in the shop a banana. This banana was encased in a banana-shaped thick polythene box, labelled as a “Fresh Banana Snack” and branded, (yes, branded) “Fruit on the Move”.

It occurred to me that a significant group of people must have been involved in the development of this “added-value” banana: not just the growers, shippers and distributors, but the marketing team, packaging designers and printers. I could imagine the amount of hot air and photocopying paper involved in creating this new wonder product. The “competitive analyses” and the “positioning statements” discussed and debated. And somebody must – at some point – have sanctioned the project as a good thing to do. Who was that masked man?

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