What if restaurants charged like creative agencies? The other side…

A few months ago, information pills this video produced by Scofield Editorial, symptoms Inc. made the rounds virally among us creative industry types. It’s well done, price and it poses a compelling question: what if customers in normal retail settings – where no one ever questions the price of things – behaved the way marketing people often treat their creative vendors? If you haven’t seen it, watch it.
Then read my response from the other side of the table .

The original video:

My tribe of creatives made this a minor YouTube sensation, with 1.1 Million views and climbing. Why? Because it’s true: the work we do is often not treated with the respect it deserves, or valued as highly as it ought to be – and certainly not as highly as we think it ought to be.

Which brings us to the other side. I remember my first experiences as a client-side marketing manager dealing with a big-city, big-ticket advertising firm. And I can tell you, clients aren’t the only ones with a problem saying “the price is the price”.

My response: a script for a viral YouTube video.

(Imagine it in a YouTube frame with millions of views under it. Then imagine laughing heartily and forwarding it to all your marketing industry buddies using the link below.)

What if restaurants charged like creative agencies?

A Funny, Poignant, & Wildly Popular Viral Video

(© 2009 Dennis Van Staalduinen – contact me if you want to shoot this. But note that I call dibs on the waiter part.)


(Restaurant interior. Attractive professional couple is seen wrapping up their meal.  A somewhat arrogant-looking waiter is seen hovering in the background.)

(MALE DINER waves WAITER over to table.)

WAITER: (With a heavy euro accent) Yes sir. Everything is all right.

MALE DINER: Fine, fine.

WAITER: Of course it is.

MALE DINER: We’d just like to settle up.

WAITER: You will receive your bill then, yes? Wait one moment.

(WAITER LEAVES. FEMALE DINER leans toward MALE DINER, hushed voice)

FEMALE DINER: Are you going to tip him? He was obnoxious, arrogant, and he kept pushing stuff at us that was way different from what we ordered.

MALE DINER: Well yes, but we’re done now. Let’s just pay and get out of here…

FEMALE DINER: Then he through a hissy fit when I tried to send the undercooked beef back.

MALE DINER: He’s a creative soul honey, they’re sensitive…

FEMALE DINER: Oh, and then there was the “Brainstorming session” over the wine…

MALE DINER: Honey, we were looking for a creative option… Oh, shhh! He’s coming back!

(WAITER re-appears. Hands large portfolio to MALE DINER, who unzips and scans it)

MALE DINER: Oh, that’s very nice. Full colour. See that honey? Very creative presentation…

FEMALE DINER: (looking at price) Hey! $1,159! What’s going on here?!?! We only ordered $100 dollars worth of food and wine!

MALE DINER: What?(looks again) This is wrong. We asked you to help us keep our bill under $100!

WAITER: And I did. Look. Everything is itemized. Your food and wine came to $98.50 with a few dollars for tax.

MALE DINER: But we already paid you that weird $25 retainer when we walked in…

WAITER: Yes yes, standard industry practice.

MALE DINER: Then, you asked for a $50 fee when you brought our food…

WAITER: For phase 2 deliverables. Yes yes. All in the proposal I submitted, and all standard industry practice.

MALE DINER: Right, so I’ll give you $25, and… you can keep the change.

WAITER: (icily) Hup, hup, hup. Very generous sir. But. Let’s look at the invoice shall we?

(he snatches the bill and begins pointing and gesticulating)

You have forgotten about disbursements, expenses, colour photo-copying charges for menus and your bill, the standard kitchen service fees, revision fees for re-cooking your beef madame – that is not free! Then licensing fees for brainstorming music, licensing for third party ingredients in your food, professional consulting fees for the Chef and myself….

FEMALE DINER: (grabbing the bill back) And this item: “Yum Factory”. What is that?

WAITER: (changes tone to pride) Why, of course that is our proprietary kitchen management process. Presumably that’s why you came to us in the first place….

MALE DINER: No, we came because we were hungry, and because we had a bit of money left over in this month’s budget for one special meal, and we thought we’d go high end for once…

WAITER: Well, you forget that we have costs too! An expensive downtown location; exquisite interior design; silver cutlery; the owner’s new Aston Martin; our Foosball table – hmm?!?

FEMALE DINER: But we didn’t choose to spend money on those things, You did!

WAITER: Ah, but you chose US!  Perhaps next time you will consider not coming to a respected provider of high quality creative output, and instead go to some… some… street-corner taco stand!!


MALE DINER: Say, honey. That’s not a bad idea. After those tiny portions and all that creative wanking, I’m still hungry.

FEMALE DINER: You’re right, a simple taco at a fair price sounds really good right about now.

(they leave)

WAITER: But wait… your bill!!

(gradually losing accent) Come back! We can negotiate!

We have this great Foosball table! Maybe I can let you play….

(he sits down dejected) Ah man. How am I going to pay for my accent lessons now?

(fade to black)


That link again for forwarding:

Again, if anyone wants to make this into a viral video sensation, let me know.

Nutella: accidental brand or cult sensation?

A Twitter conversation last night instigated by Olivier Blanchard and carried on ad nauseum elsewhere, sales reminded me of a long-time guilty pleasure: Nutella. Just typing the word makes me salivate – and I have to restrain myself from running upstairs to slather some of that rich hazelnutty goodness on melba toast. And apparently I’m not alone: in additon to Twitter fetishists, Nutella has 3.5 million fans on Facebook.

French Vs German Nutella

So why all the nuts?

Dutch Hagelslag: The chocolate-on-bread option I grew up with.

I didn’t grow up with Nutella. As a Dutch-Canadian kid, if we wanted chocolate on bread, by golly, we just put chocolate on bread. “Hagelslag” (pronounce the g as if you are lightly hacking up a small furball) or “chocolate hail” or just “sprinkles” were always available at my Oma’s house. My first Nutella purchase came as a student, when my room-mate had to have it in the house, and I in turn have had my own jar on the shelf ever since. And now, although we don’t let the kids have it (far too precious), my pregnant wife is currently making sure we stay stocked up.

But I wasn’t conscious of where it comes from (Italy), or its fascinating history, which Wikipedia has done a much better job of than I could manage in a blog post. Basically, it comes from a war-time innovation by Pietro Ferrero to produce a cheaper alternative to chocolate using cocoa and the hazelnuts that were plentiful in that region. Nutella in its present form emerged in 1964, with 179,000 tons produced in Italy every year.

Building a fan base

But I can’t remember seing an ad for Nutella, and can’t recall a single in-store promotion or Point-of Purchase display. It was always just there on the shelf alongside the Peanut Butter, calling “Dennis! DEEEENNNNISS!”. <more saliva> But I digress.

Apparently Ferrero does do some advertising – particularly in Europe, as in this nicely toned French ad that promises that Nutella will give you the energy of a child. But according to this site, Ferrerro USA only spent $300,000 on advertising in 2008.

It’s interesting that the positioning is built around “energy” and “youthfulness” rather than being explicitly “healthy”. In Canada, Nutella labels feature a boy kicking a soccer ball to highlight their support for amateur soccer, while in Italy, the connection with futbol was made even clearer in one commemorative package (right).Soccer jar

But in the UK, the “energy” positioning has gotten Nutella into hot water as misleading for a product that contains so much sugar and fat (thanks to @kaitli for the tip!).

The secret to Nutella’s long term success seems to be consistency, living up to the promise by just being there, and by the affectionate devotion of its fans who carry a craving for that taste well into their adult lives. And not just consumption, but even geeky fixation.

Just do a quick YouTube search on Nutella, and you’ll find hundreds of fans geeking out on all aspects of the product. Check out this clip from a German television show that compares the consistency of French Nutella with German Nutella in agonizing (and entertaining) detail. But note that when they actually call Ferrero in this clip, the brand-er doesn’t do much to help the geeks in question with their free advertising.

So the question for you DIFFER brand geeks: what should Ferrero be doing to capitalize on all these nuts who obviously want to help them spread the love? Social Media campaigns? More traditional media advertising? Just staying out of the way? Looking for your comments as always.