It's generally not great when you discover non-food items in your food—a finger in your frozen custard, say, or a mouse stuck to your hot-dog bun. But of course, one man's disgust and revulsion can be another man's marketing opportunity.
Colenso BBDO, a New Zealand agency that's clearly looking to make friends with the Cannes Lions PR jury, noticed a little something about these gross-out food horror stories—they get a lot of play in the press. So, the shop asked the mischievous question: What if the surprising object, minus the grossness, were put there on purpose? Thus began the twig project—in which Colenso started packaging random twigs inside 12-packs of client Monteith's Crushed Cider. The point was to reassure New Zealanders that Monteith's is made using fresh fruit, not concentrated fruit syrup—while unnerving them first, and all but forcing them to call the company and complain.
Is this clever or annoying? Well, it's both. Obviously it's a novel way to get your customers' attention. But is it worth it if it also makes them feel like fools? Listening to the phone calls in the case-study video below is uncomfortable. Surely these people have better things to do with their time than get tricked into phoning a call center for the purposes of an ad campaign. If I had been one of those people, I'm not sure how quickly I'd laugh it off—or how positive my word of mouth would be about the brand afterward.
Then there's the larger point that the campaign forces the customer to think, at one point at least, something's wrong with this product. It might not be quite like finding a mouse in your cider, but it seems questionable to base a campaign around the notion that the product might have been tampered with.
The initial stunt—which doesn't actually seem to have generated much press coverage at all (the impressions are curiously missing from the video)—led to mock apology ads, haughty in tone, which suggested: "If you really did take offense, perhaps you could try one of the many other cider brands on the market made from concentrate." Actually, that might not be such a bad idea.
Client: Monteith's Crushed Cider
Agency: Colenso BBDO, Auckland, New Zealand
Creative Chairman: Nick Worthington
Art Director: James Tucker
Copywriter: Simon Vicars
Creative: Aaron Turk
Agency Producer: Sheriden Derby
Photographer: Simon Harper
Retoucher: Kevin Hyde
Designer: Mike Davision