Feb 012013
Oscar Mayer, It's Terrible Food

Just like your grandfather never used to make.

Broadcast: 30 January 2013
Program: NFL Total Access
Channel: NFL Network
Conglomerate: The National Football League

Advertiser: Oscar Mayer
Owned By: Kraft Foods Group, Inc.
Pitch: Our pulled pork tastes so little like homemade that your friends will be able to tell without even eating it.

One of the oldest tricks in the advertising bag, especially when it comes to marketing food, is to imply that it’s so good that people will mistake something you got out of a package for something somebody made fresh.  That soup your mother loved and wants the recipe for?  It’s really Brand X from a can.  Guests didn’t see the delivery guy?  That’s because it’s Brand Y frozen pizza.  Companies will use this trick for just about any kind of food that can be made at home.

That well worn tactic is what Oscar Mayer was going for in this commercial for some of their packaged pork, but somewhere along the way they forgot how it’s supposed to work and managed to strongly imply that their food isn’t nearly as good as homemade instead of the other way around.  We open on three guys in a generic living room, with the guy on the left serving food to his two seated guests:

Impersonal Living Room

Thanks for coming over guys!  I’m glad we all remembered not to wear anything with a trademarked logo on it.

The host, whom we’ll be referring to as “Idiot” for reasons that will shortly become clear, has a seat while his guests prepare to eat:

Black Guy: Oh, man!
White Guy: It’s like we’re tailgating.
Idiot: My grandfather’s secret recipe.  They’ve been smoking for hours.

Much like how Hooters wants to associate itself with the Super Bowl but can’t actually mention anything that even sounds like football, Oscar Mayer is using the word “tailgating” to let you know that they’d like you to buy this stuff for Sunday.  (And no, advertising on the NFL Network does not buy you any leeway from the Eye of Goodell.)  Idiot goes to sit down and, without even taking a bite, his friends are immediately skeptical:

Black Guy: How many hours exactly?
White Guy: What kind of spices you use in your rub?

Apparently, this stuff is so obviously low quality that they don’t even have to taste it to tell it sucks because they both instantly know that their idiot host is lying his ass off.

How Dumb Do We Look

Get the fuck out of here.

The host tries to play it off:

Idiot: What part of secret recipe don’t you understand?  I’m gonna go turn off the smoker.

They continue to not believe him, and it doesn’t help that he looks like Tom Hanks’ stunt double after a rough day of shooting:

Mot Hanks

This is what happens when you spend too many days swimming after a volleyball.

Anyway, he gets up and his friends on the couch call after him:

White Guy: Your grandfather’d be proud of you! . . . He didn’t make these.
Black Guy: [Mumbled agreement]

Idiot goes to the kitchen, White Guy confronts him, the jig is up, etcetera, that’s all standard.  But what makes this so odd is that the guy who was facepalm stupid enough to try passing off Oscar Mayer as his grandfather’s secret recipe is then ashamed:

Oscar Mayer Shame

Embarrassment and shame, two things any advertiser should want associated with their product.

Aren’t these guys supposed to be making this product look attractive?  Because this commercial only has two messages, and neither of them is very good for Oscar Mayer:

1.  Morons buy this stuff.
2.  Non-Morons can tell right away that it’s not nearly as good as real food.

After that, the narrator (Dr. Leo Spaceman himself, Chris Parnell) comes on to do damage control, but it’s too late.  Oscar Mayer: much crappier than real food.

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