Tag Archives: Frito-Lay

Battle of the 2015 Super Bowl Ad Reviewers

It’s time to demonstrate (again) that when it comes to advertising, no one agrees on anything. Raise your hand if you’re shocked.

The Armchair MBA repeated last year’s stunt in comparing the ratings of 10 prominent 2015 Super Bowl ad reviewers, summarized in the handy chart below, along with my personal ratings. (Green/yellow/red coding, alphabetized within my ratings)

2015SuperBowlCollage

While no Doberhuahua this year, there was plenty of dreck and schmaltz to take its place, but a few very good spots as well. Unfortunately many spots were so-so – – either they rewarded our attention with a muddled message or weak branding, or they were copy-by-committee logical with no heart or pizzazz (Hello, GoDaddy. Hello, Weathertech).

Mostly universally admired: P&G Always “Like a Girl”, Avocados from Mexico, Dove Men+Care, Mophie, Budweiser/Puppy (I declined highest marks on the last two)

Most universally unloved: Nationwide’s “Boy” (runaway loser), Nissan, Lexus

Most schizophrenic (scored best on some lists, worst on others): McDonald’s “Pay with Lovin’”, SquareSpace/Jeff Bridges, Loctite “Positive Feelings”, Toyota Camry/Amy Purdy, Carnival Cruise Lines, Victoria’s Secret (had to watch this again to make sure I knew how I felt)

A few observations:
– Personally not a fan of high-concept feel-good spots like McDonald’s or Coca-Cola or Jeep, or for that matter, the very cute/manipulative Bud puppy ads. Fun for the agency, probably test well for likability, but hard to see how see how it drives action or enhances the core brand equity.
Love spots like Fiat 500 SUV – simple message (we made the base 500 bigger), using an analogy that’s easy to understand and relevant to the main point (if a bit naughty)
– Would love to be a fly on the wall during the approval process of the Nationwide’s “Boy” spot (spoiler alert: it’s about a charming boy who turns out to be dead. More chips & dip, please).
– For fun, check out some of the breathless, we-take-ourselves-kind-of-seriously reviews comments like “Powerful message but tough ad to watch”, “Disturbingly brilliant and impactful”, “emotionally powerful and good storytelling”, blah blah blah – you can see some here (as well as a CMO’s explanation about why his ad was NOT supposed to sell product.  Hmmm…).

To see the summary, click on the chart below. Click twice for maximum size/readability.

SuperBowl2015

The reviewers:
Kellogg Graduate School of Management

Advertising Age

Wall Street Journal
Chicago Tribune


Entertainment Weekly

Variety

Slate

Yahoo Sports

New Yorker
New York Post (new this year!)

My evaluations are generally based on the Kellogg ADPLAN approach: Attention
– Distinction
– Positioning
– Linkage
– Amplification
– Net Equity – – along with some personal gut feel.

We know that the Super Bowl is a special stage, and different rules certainly apply.   In addition, there are social media linkages and previews that can dramatically amplify the impact of ads. So it is somewhat unfair to judge an execution in isolation.

On the other hand, we don’t claim to be fair. And as observed last year, sometimes an ad just sucks.

See you next year.

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Outrage at New Corporate Average Calorie Count Mandate: What took so long?

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After over a year, the food industry has finally begun to voice frustration with the upcoming Corporate Average Calorie Count (CACC) requirements that were a little-noticed insertion in the recently implemented Affordable Care Act.

Like it or not, this law has been on the books for over a year – – why the sudden passive-aggressive reaction?

Like Big Auto’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, CACC requires all US-based food and beverage manufacturers making over 20 products to average at or below 100 calories-per-serving for all processed products by 2019.   While CAFE uses a sales-weighted mean, CACC counts all products equally.  “We decided to use a simpler approach that everyone – consumers, manufacturers, retailers – – and Congress – – could understand”, said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (who knows a thing or two about the importance of simplicity). Sebelius-calories

Companies need to submit CACC plans by the end of 2014, with final compliance targeted by 2019.  Excluded are imported products, unprocessed foods, dairy, ‘ingredient’ foods like peanut butter or oil, alcoholic beverages and products sold through foodservice, vending and convenience channels (although vending machines are impacted by the same provision in ACA and have to post calorie counts by the end of 2014) .  Companies not meeting standards will face penalties of $1,000 per calorie above the target level, multiplied by each $1 million of revenue of that company. ACA-Vending

Food manufacturers are just now starting to realize the size of the challenge.  “CACC creates significant costs for manufacturers, a huge compliance burden, and most importantly, is likely to remove choice and impact taste for consumers,” said Lloyd Braun, CEO of Peterman Bakeries of Omaha, NE.  “If it’s difficult for a smaller producer like us, it could be almost impossible for the Krafts and Pepsis of the world”.

Indeed, meeting the standard will be tough.  We took a look at PepsiCo to see what they are facing.

According to its websites, PepsiCo sells 1327 products across its Pepsi, Frito-Lay and Quaker businesses (not counting Tropicana).  Its Corporate Average Calorie Count now stands at 118.2, with beverages actually close to the standard at 102.6, brought up by Frito-Lay at 137.9 and Quaker at 150.7 (click on chart).

PepsiCo-Calories

To meet the 100 calorie corporate goal, PepsiCo will likely need a combination of reformulation, elimination of higher-calorie offerings, and addition of lower-calorie offerings.  This could mean fewer products like Grandma’s Cookies (210 calories), Quaker Breakfast Cookies (175) and Starbucks Frappuccino (290) and more like Rice Cakes (35), Matador Jerky (75) and lots more AMP Sugar-free Energy Drinks (15).  Happily, Quaker’s Quisp cereal checks in at an even 100 calories and thus seems safe.

As difficult as this current Pepsi Challenge is, they at least have the benefit of a large number of products (and frankly, a couple of large subsidiaries) to work with.  The CACC mandate could be terminal for those companies specializing in more indulgent fare, such as frozen pizza (285), fettucine alfredo (415) and Garrett’s Gingerbread CaramelCrisp Popcorn (300).

Still, the angst is real: A source inside PepsiCo explained: “We thought we had done our part by helping reduce Americans’ calorie intake by 6.4 trillion calories as part of the 2010 Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation initiative – – we are now quite frustrated that the current Administration is piling on with these new requirements. So frankly, not much work has been done yet”.

Well, it’s time to stop whining and get to work.   ACA is not going away, and your country is depending on you.