Who’s smoking what? Two campaigns. Two different results.

Spoiler: Cheech & Chong smoke the Ragu sauce

In my inbox today, for sale two different bloggers slammed two big food brands for recent “edgy” social media campaigns. First, sickness C. C.Chapman Ragu Hates Dads. Then, Dale Buss on Brandchannel What Was General Mills Smoking to OK Cheech and Chong Magic Brownie Campaign? On both, I beg to differ. But for different reasons.

The bad: Ragu’s lame attempt.

The Facebook page they’re pimping.

Now here’s C.C. Chapman’s take on it:

As the person in my household who does all of the shopping and all of the cooking I took offense to this video. Implying that dads can only cook the simple things and Ragu is somehow going to help make that easier. Give me a break!

Meh. Now, as the guy in our house who also does all of the above, I get his complaint. But I didn’t take offense so much as just  shake my head. What should have been a light, fun, and playful poke at the kind of guy who doesn’t help in the kitchen – and yes, they’re out there, and they totally deserve lampooning – instead comes across as an unfocused, whiney, un-entertaining, bitch fest.

The problem is not that it’s edgy, highly mom-specific, or even offensive. The big problem is that it’s BAD. Badly produced, awkwardly executed, and absolutely unlikely to get anybody to buy the freaking Spaghetti Sauce, much less laugh or pass this to their friends!

The good: General Mills hilarious Cheech & Chong trailer

The Web page – also brilliant – with more funny outtakes.

Here’s Dale Buss’s bitchy screed:

Oh, to have been a fly on that wall at that pitch meeting. What were General Mills marketers (and agency, Publicis) thinking when this viral promotion moved from sideline conference-room chatter to the thing in the middle of the table, and then to production, and then to actual placement on the brand’s Facebook page, YouTube channel and a campaign microsite earlier this month?

I don’t know what they were thinking either, but it worked. For guys over 40 like me who grew up being shocked by Cheech and Chong’s in-your-face counter-culture humour (and secretly loving it) I think this campaign nails the tone, humour, and most importantly, the product pitch in this one. So while many will find it equally “offensive” to the Ragu campaign, this one will actually find an audience who will pass this on.

I think Chapman was wrong because he picked on the wrong issue in the Ragu campaign. I think Buss is just wrong.

How about you? Does the Magic Brownie thing go too far? Does Ragu actually hit the mark? Am I full of flaming spaghetti sauce?

Please: Beg to Differ. I do.

10 thoughts on “Who’s smoking what? Two campaigns. Two different results.”

  1. Thanks for the commentary on my post and these campaigns.

    I don’t see anything wrong with the brownie one and in fact cracked up laughing.

    My main problem with the Ragu campaign is more about their tactics than anything else. It is LAZY social media marketing on top of a completely crappy video that plays into stereotypes and overall isn’t that great.

    1. Lazy is a good word for it. Shallow. Cheap. Etc.

      But to be fair, Ragu is a product LAZY cooks as well. The one time I bought the stuff, it was because I was thinking: maybe this will help me make a fast no-complaints meal for the kids one night when I’m busy. Used it once. Instantly regretted it, and my daughter asked if I’d put ketchup in the sauce.

  2. Cheech and Chong are still alive? I wasn’t offended, but I didn’t see that ending coming at all. Still chuckling a bit. Think I might avoid those brownies though.

    I agree with CC that Ragu was way off on this one as far as strategy, but I also agree with Dennis that the ad doesn’t really motivate anyone to DO anything. It was a bad campaign, think we all agree.

    However, and you know I love you CC, I think that by registering an FU URL for your blog post was a bit over the top, too. And the two posts on your two different blogs feels a little like bad cop, good cop. Dunno, you tell me. I think that these brand attacks make them leery of dealing with those of us who are both bloggers and consultants.

  3. I second the “Cheech and Chong are still alive?” question–I had no idea!

    With Ragu, why are we shocked at a spaghetti sauce’s meh campaign? And if it’s offensive to dads, welcome to the world of being a mom and a woman, where every ad and every campaign targeted at me (albeit, thankfully, not via Twitter spam) is stereotypical, offensive and totally off-base. As is almost every article and bit of advice offered by woman’s magazines. After a while you become numb to it.

    1. Fair enough. That’s probably why I can’t get worked up by “dad-bashing”. We dads have had it pretty good since, well, since they invented the penis really. Getting lampooned for our Homer Simpson moments is fair game as far as I’m concerned. It just means we have to work hard to be better than that right?

  4. I want to be more eloquent than saying, yeah Dennis, I agree with you. But that’s pretty much the sum total of my comment.

    The Magic Brownie Adventure was hilarious — entertaining anyway. I thought they were funny, though. Always liked Cheech Marin.

    I take CC’s point about Ragu for sure, but when I consider their target demographics…Anyway, it’s not a great campaign and doesn’t seem to be executed well. That’s the key to me, but still not sure I think it’s worth an offensive.

  5. I thought the Cheech and Chong set was hilarious. The Ragu commercial reminded me of a couple of guys in my first year dorm at Redeemer. Every week they cooked fish sticks or chicken fingers. Lots of creativity there!

  6. Great to see you’re back online Dennis, keep ’em coming! I have to say I’m sick and tired of “stupid dad / stupid man” commercials. It’s too easy a target. On the other hand kudos to the Ch&Ch integration. Did I hear “risk-taking” and “marketer” in the same sentence? That simply does not happen in today’s hard-sell market. I bet it cuts through.

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