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UK freelance journalist and author Sean McManus

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When marketers get lazy

17 November 2007

Two marketing execs, in horn-rimmed glasses, sit around a glass table. "Okay, so cooking oil. What can we do for this campaign?"

"How about... There's a puddle of cooking oil, and it starts to coalesce, like in Terminator, and becomes a Morph-like character, who dives into a chip pan and starts to dance with the chips! We play salsa music, and then display the name of the brand."

"I like your thinking! But what's the budget?"

"Well, we'd need about two weeks of rendering, and probably a month of time from a lead animator. That won't be cheap. And there's the broadcast time too, of course. But the campaign extends smoothly across all media."

"Hardly cheap as chips, though."

The man sighed. It was nearly home time. "I guess we could do what we always do, then."

"What's that?"

"Get a woman in a bra."

"Yes! Our market research suggests that our customer base is largely female, so they're bound to relate to that. What about a tag line?"

"How about 'Sizzling!'. Or 'Hot stuff!'. No, wait. Let's just put 'Cooking!'. Get back to the basics of the message we want to communicate here."

"Like it! And she's writhing in the cooking oil?"

"No, she's a stock photo. She's never been anywhere near it."

"But she looks like she might writhe in the cooking oil?"

"No, she looks like she's been heavily sedated."

"Hmmmm. Not sure I'm feeling it, yet..."

"She does have absurdly large breasts, Sir, and a rather small bra to keep them in."


Photo of Nila van: Cooking!

As seen in Chiswick about twice a week. Excuse the poor photo, but some bloke was unloading drums of oil from the back of it, so I had to be discreet. For the avoidance of any doubt, this photograph was taken in 2007, and not 1977 as you might otherwise assume.

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Makes you wonder - when the poor (sedated-looking) girl did the photoshoot, do you think she knew where the pic was going to be used?

Or perhaps the cooking oil transportation company just copied a pic from Kays catalogue...
You're right, it's what they always do. A long time ago I was working at an electronics magazine when it had a big anniversary - 30 or 40 years, can't remember which. We were flicking through back issues one day and found an ad for some really exciting product (maybe thermistors - no wait, perhaps not quite as exciting as that). It was illustrated not with some saucily clad, pouting metal things with legs suggestively arranged, but with...a woman in a bra, with absurdly large breasts and a rather small bra. "You can't fit a quart into a pint pot," read the caption. We almost understood.

I forget now why the ad wasn't reproduced in our special anniversary issue.
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