Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

I know this is supposed to be funny.

After all, it came to me in an email from Heinz with a subject line that began with the word "funny."

I like seeing funny things. So I opened the email.

It told of an ad featuring Jack Cambria, a former NYPD hostage negotiator.

His role in this ad is to help parents face a crisis.

The crisis is one that so many families have faced. 

They've run out of ketchup.

You're laughing, aren't you?

Because you've been there, haven't you?

So here's the ad. 

The parents' little boy is very unhappy that mom and dad don't have backup supplies. 

He pouts. He sulks. 

And then he behaves like a complete brat.

Meanwhile, the parents sit there, desperately trying to make this insufferable child happy, while Cambria offers negotiating tips, such as emotional labeling and creating a mutual enemy.

Naturally, his ultimate solution is to have a backup bottle at all times.

Just as naturally, Heinz is giving away backup bottles of its fine ketchup for free in a socially enlightened two-for-one.

Heinz is clearly giddy about all this. 

A press release declares the deep-seated science behind the ad.

"Many parents agree that having ketchup gets their child to eat their dinner. In fact, The NPD Group's National Eating Trends found that kids across America eat ketchup more than 3 BILLION times in an average year -- twice as much as any other condiment or sauce," the company says. (The capitals are Heinz's.)

I pause for you to consider the many touching aspects in this statement.

Meanwhile, I'll just slip in that a tablespoon of ketchup enjoys more sugar than a chocolate chip cookie.

It must be me, but I didn't find this ad funny at all.

Oddly, I find it a pitiful exercise.

The message is surely that if your kid behaves like a brat, you should feel so very guilty that you have let him down.

So buy twice as much ketchup now!

As opposed to sending him up to his room to Google civilization on his iPhone X.

Crisis negotiation is an extremely serious business, in which lives are at stake.

So buy twice as much ketchup now, just as the experienced hostage negotiator tells you!

I very much like Heinz Ketchup. I've liked it all my life.  

And I know this is supposed to be satire.

So I asked Heinz whether I was alone on this island of pity or whether it could, perhaps mediate for me. 

I didn't hear back.

Published on: Mar 7, 2018
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