Advertising, what’s up?

Television, radio, newspaper, posters, flyers, planes and blimps! All of these methods are good for saying that we have a product to sell; this is fantastic, even more fantastic than that other product which resembles it but which is not the same. Etc. etc.

Faced with all these messages, each trying to outrival the other, we can certainly ask ourselves: is it worth our while to advertise or do we just do it because everyone else is doing it? To ask the question is to answer it… Because we live in a society where media is ever more present, we no longer have a choice: if a product does not talk; does not express itself, it quite simply does not exist. To be or not to be, that is the question!

Before buying a product, people buy the advertisement!

Advertising is an intrusion. People do not ask to see it, they are bombarded with it. This is why it must not only present a product; it must also be seen as an attractive, seductive product in itself. Otherwise it risks being ignored or rejected, which does little to serve the products it advertises.

Incidentally, it is this principal that has oriented the conception of advertisements for eggs over the past few years. And whether it be by public appreciation, appreciation from critics and leaders of marketing opinion or results in terms of the sale of eggs, one is forced to admit that this publicity has had major success.

The OUI, NON newspaper ads, in which an egg replaces the «O», won the award Le Coq du Public from the Publicité Club de Montreal, an award decided on by a poll done on consumers. The award for the best radio message in the «food» category, given by the Radio Marketing Bureau for the message «Oui maman» was also decided on by the listeners. The newspaper and poster advertising campaign OUI, NON, BON, MOMAN, etc. won more than one award in different publicity contests in Québec, Canada and the rest of the world. Furthermore, the poster «BON» broke records by receiving a mark of 8.4 (the average is 7.0) from Bulletin D, created by the firm Descarie & Complices; this report evaluates the efficacy of different advertising messages according to a panel of experts in marketing. Finally, while it may be presumptuous to attribute it to marketing and communications activities, a definite raise in the sale of eggs has been noted in Québec since 1996 and continues to this day.

Publicity that doesn’t seem like publicity…

Among all the changes in eating habits and research in nutrition in the past few decades, it is without doubt the « cholesterol » crisis associated with cardio-vascular diseases that has most tarnished the reputation of eggs. Especially since the statement was disconcertingly simple: eggs contain cholesterol, and cholesterol causes heart problems.

It is difficult to turn around such a negative perception with simple advertising for two main reasons. On one hand, you have to confront the sources of information (researchers, doctors, dieticians), who are much more credible in the eyes of consumers than a federation that represents producers of eggs. On the other hand, you have to be able to give all the necessary explanation in order to contest the first statement which was simple; and advertising does not work well for this kind of explication.

This is why the FPOCQ decided to confront the prejudices associated with cholesterol, not by using advertising, but by hiring an expert and credible spokesperson (a dietician), whom consumers «could» trust, to give interviews to the media and back up press releases and documentation. A press related campaign geared towards the public and special interest magazines was then orchestrated in order to diffuse the new results in nutritional research and invite them to rediscover the nutritional virtues of the egg.

The results of this operation were impressive: one whole front page in the Journal de Montréal, articles in many other daily newspapers, in weekly papers and magazines, as well as interviews on television and radio. Another type of publicity, inexpensive and above all, that does not look like publicity!

Eggs, what’s crackin’ ?

In conclusion, the simple fact that a product is well known and commonly used is no guarantee that people will always continue to use it, especially if we no longer talk about it. It can even be necessary to spend millions in order to make foods like eggs and milk better known, otherwise, the competition will quickly take over the free place in the mind of the consumer. And the more competition there is, the more we must remind people that our product exists.

We can always ask ourselves if we have the means to advertise. But more and more, we must ask ourselves if we have the means not to.

François Ménard

Note: this text was originally published the week of June 12, 1997 in the weekly newspaper La Terre de Chez-Nous. At the time, I was employed as Publicity and Advertising Advisor at the Fédération des Producteurs d’Oeufs de Consommation du Québec. In spite of the years, this text remains relevant and accurately reflects my views on advertising.