June 30, 2011 in Meat
Thank goodness, I did not get slammed into the oven by a torrent of poisoned cupcakes after yesterday’s post … But years of practice as an outspoken non-diplomat have seasoned me for the silent sulks and it will not surprise me if I get drowned in a backlash of batter later on…
Anyway. I woke up not knowing what to write on my blog today or what recipe to post. So I took time and enjoyed the luxury of replying to the comments from yesterday’s post. And as I was replying to Max’s comment, I knew what I was going to write about today: the perception of perfection (or being the best according to ‘them’). That’s right. The issue of being the perfect wife, mother, lover or whatever has slipped over into Cyberia to being the perfect (or best) cook or blogger.
For years and years now I have been a marketing consultant. And thanks to my beloved soul sister HP a great one (albeit not a humble one), conceptualising campaigns that are usually off-the-wall and out-of-the-box but devised to touch the consumer in a way that makes her or him amenable to brand persuasion. Translated into Plainlish, Miranda, it means I know how to sell cabbage to kids!
So, the one thing that I have seen not working year in and year out in the marketplace and in the media, is the pursuit of an image that “if you use our brand, you will experience ‘all is well’ or ‘all is beautiful’ or ‘all is great, and pretty, and orderly and in fact, near-as-dammit-perfect’ so if you want to be the best, use our brand”.
Here is the real situation as I see it: those images of the orderly and pretty lives and clean and good children and romantic and fuzzy females with steaming pretty bowls of perfect yummy food-stylist-food that the marketing campaigns and the media portray get a few fans and followers, sure. My daugher calls them sheeple … go figure and all of us have a few friends who follow and copy the images … but the rest of us?
No way, José.
By now we all know that highly overpaid funky/trendy stylists and ad agency execs are behind the scenes to get us to aspire to have food or hair or kids or homes or pets or cars that look like that in an image that took these fairies several hours to style. The assumption is that if we aspire to be like the image, we will buy the brand in the hope that it will abracadabra such a scenario in our lives.
That is sooo 50s!
And astonishing, we have many brands still following that kind of ad module: the aspirational angle. If I ask them they tell me it gets results. Well, d’uh! If you spend enough money on enough repetitions of your silly 1950 ads (called frequency in ad language) the consumer will respond by the bucketsful and surprise!! We consumers actually sometimes DO need your brand so in spite of your corny ads (which you often get from your International offices and just dub it to South African), we still buy it and because of the one thing that your ads actually sometimes manage to do correctly is to offer a solution to the consumer’s constant conundrum of “How to … get the dishes cleaned with least effort and time, serve a decent family meal in a hurry…” Kapeesh? That is what grabs our attention! Think solving our problems. And think real problems. Not aspirational problems J!
We, today’s consumers will look and admire the images of household perfection but then we turn away from them and continue to follow more real and urgent aspirations: to get through the day, week, month, year and our lives, to raise our children to be good people, to make time for the people and to do things we love and enjoy and to earn enough money to create special places, activities, moments and memories with our loved ones. Most of us may aspire to bake and decorate mile high cupcakes, but honest to God? The majority of us will never-ever get around to it more than once in a lifetime if ever – because we are simply too busy to follow our own personal aspirations where perfect cupcakes are very low on the list of priorities, even our list of ‘fun’ priorities.
That’s for most of us. Granted, some folk will still hold public perfection-achievement as a ‘thing of life’ but we rest will continue to enjoy trying and having a quite a few flops on our way to heaven. Luckily the highly profitable and nose-in-the-airy-fairy vain-glorious days of ad agencies and their not-real funky/trendy stylist days are beginning to draw to a close as the marketing offices of big brands are getting the ‘real’ picture and going in house with a team of real and outsourced experts to do the real jobs for the real consumers.
The bottom line for me is this: consumers of household brands do not want to aspire to like and in situations like the people in ads: we want to identify with them! So get rid of the smiling people in perfect images telling us that “when my sink blocks, I use XYZ brand” and then we see the calm, serene, perfectly coiffed hausfrau pointing like the Black Swan dancer to a pristine sink with an added sparkle-star as a sting for effect! Awful! I would have preferred to see somebody like my other soul sister Exec PA Christa in her power suit splodged full of sink debris behind a blocked sink and actually managing to get the thing open with the brand. Yes. Please! Give us real people in real situations as in real local South Africa and we consumers will reward you more and better than ever before. Promise!
So, long story short again: let’s celebrate our realness with a “Love my Flop” drive. I will try and get a few pamper hampers from an advertiser and give them exposure on our website, not this blog. (It’s such a shame that bloggers are exploited for their blog spaces by some advertisers/PR agencies). Then we will have a little vote and choose the best flop of the season. Interested to be part of it? Then email me at email@example.com and let’s get a real show on the road with the help of lovely Milani, the website’s newly appointed editor. jay I’ve got help!
Meanwhile, life goes on and right now I am aspiring to cook something hearty and family-more-ish for the weekend. So here goes:
Hearty Oxtail with Gnocchi
For the recipe, click here: