New Column Alert! Ad Snacking: A Biting Critique Of Food Advertising

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Welcome to my new Food Republic column! My name is Eli Sussman and I'm currently a line cook at Mile End in Brooklyn, NY. In the food world I've cooked for catering companies, worked as a fast food grill master and even helped run the kitchen at my childhood summer camp.

But in a past life I worked in the world of advertising and wore lots of hats. I've agonized over a tagline, stared at Excel docs — wondering why those CTR's were so damn low — schmoozed clients and done everything else in between.

Each week in Ad Snacking I'll take a close look at a food advertisement. I'll try to keep the copy short to guarantee your R.O.I. on procrastinating at your desk stays high.

This Week's Ad: Hefty Slider Bag World's Strongest Man TV commercial

If you're not familiar with how making a commercial happens, here's what happens: a group of talented people ideated, brainstormed, "built off that concept" and whiteboarded, until in the darkest of hours, when all hope is lost, someone stands up and screams: "I've got it! Let's fill bags with chili and then drop them on the ground to illustrate how strong they are! And we can use the world's strongest man as the pitchman!" Then they get paid six figures, take a limo to a Yankees game and one of the new assistants makes out with the client during the 8th inning in the suite bathroom.

Observations about the Hefty ad:

  1. Soccer Mom Demo Targeting

At the :27 second mark, the psychotic-looking soccer mom in the Dog the Bounty Hunter gloves fills the bag with chili (deep, heavy, focused breathing), then lets out her victorious battle cry upon winning. For the modern woman in 2012, filling bags with chili and not having them explode at your feet upon dropping constitutes a GREAT accomplishment. (It's the small victories.)

  • And the Emmy goest to professional strongman Brian Shaw
  • He conveys at the :23 mark just how difficult it is to hold chili in your bare hands. Lightning bolt! I'll stop storing chili in my bare hands too! And also a note to the commercial director – that chili cascading through his hands DOES NOT suggest or allude to ANY human bodily function. Great imagery.

    Grades and Ratings:

    Product: Up until now I've been storing everything in microwave-safe, easily washable, stackable containers with seal-tight lids. But with Hefty's new "unbreakable seal" bags with this "impenetrable plastic exterior," I'll never go back to those idiotic containers again! B+

    Messaging: I'm definitely gifting bags of chili for the holidays this year. This commercial was selling me chili, right? A+

    Ad Creativity: The set design, lighting and guest stars really brought the messaging to life. If World's Strongest Man had any sense, they'd add "The Chili Hold" to their 2013 competition. B

    Eli Sussman's second cookbook, This Is A Cookbook, is co-written with his brother Max and will be released August 1 at Williams-Sonoma nationwide.