Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek
You shouldn't think about ads too much. You really shouldn't.
Some chief marketing officers can forget this.
They analyze every frame, every nuance, and every possible interpretation.
Meanwhile, those who create ads try and anticipate what a CMO might say.
It's a recipe for strife of the most delightful kind.
Please consider, then, the ad that Heinz has prepared for the Super Bowl.
It's so very heartwarming. I know this because it features dogs.
Super Bowl ads often feature dogs. No one can dislike a dog -- at least not one in a Super Bowl ad.
The conceit here is that wiener dogs are, you know, hot. No, not hot like that. Not hot to trot.
These wiener dogs are dressed up as hot dogs.
There's clearly something missing in their lives. They're rushing headlong in a field.
What is at the other end? Why, bottles of Heinz ketchup and mustard and other fine Heinz sauces.
If I'm to be entirely pedantic, these bottles are inhabited by humans. This is a campaign Heinz has run for a while, in which humans are inside ketchup and mustard bottles. Because, oh, advertising.
Anyway, the dogs need their sauce. They cannot wait. Harry Nilsson is wailing away about how the dogs can't live without the sauces. Well, he's actually singing about some woman he lost, but, you know, details.
The ad ends on a note of high romance.
The dogs get closer and closer. As they see the human sauce bottles, they leap into the air.
Actually, I suspect a couple of them were thrown by assistants off-camera. No matter, filming is a difficult thing. Dogs don't always take direction well.
Anyway, the dogs are licking the sauce bottles' faces. The human sauce bottles' faces, that is.
The Super Bowl audience is going to love it, especially as they'll likely be covered in mustard and ketchup themselves as they're watching.
Please let me tell you, though, that one or two marketing minds -- on seeing this idea presented -- would have worried.
Here's what at least one CMO I know would have said: "Wait, those people are going to eat those dogs, aren't they? The real dogs, not the hot ones. We're encouraging dog-eating. This is gross. Animal lovers will hate us. PETA will be onto us within seconds, calling us all sorts of names. And can you imagine Twitter? Hashtag HeinzDogKillers."
I fear you'll think I'm exaggerating.
But I once sat in a meeting when an idea for a kids' drink was being presented. It was an animation that featured a dog by a swimming pool. The dog was wearing sunglasses.
The marketing director looked at the creative team sternly. He was worried about this. He demanded research. So the idea was put before humans in a focus group.
Focus groups sometimes wonder why they're being paid to answer seemingly inane questions.
But there, out of the mouth of one researchee, came the same words that emerged from the marketing director's mouth : "But dogs don't wear sunglasses."
And the idea died.
So remember when you're watching ads or when you're responsible for making them. Don't think. Rationality is a terribly destructive thing.
After all, Steve Jobs didn't exhort Apple users to think differently, did he? That's what many a CMO would have insisted upon.