Marketing Doctor John Tantillo’s Winner and Loser of The Week
Winner: Mega Millions
Loser: Pink Slime
The winner this week offers a simple lesson in branding: when you sell something that people want, you don’t need to do much to promote it –they will come to you.
That’s what Mega Millions teaches us.
Fact is, that’s what the lines waiting to buy a chance at half a billion dollars told any marketer last week.
Despite the outrageous odds against winning, human beings are drawn to the lottery. The bigger the jackpot, the more people come out of the woodwork to buy their chance.
From a marketing perspective, the promoter of Mega Millions must simply get out of the way. In other words, the branding must be straightforward (what can be more straightforward than naming your product exactly what it is –a chance to win mega millions?).
Next, the distribution must be there and almost nothing is as efficiently and widely distributed as these lottery tickets.
Bottom line: it’s something people really want, has an attractive price point, clear branding and universal distribution with no supply chain problems.
Pink slime has been in the news but anyone with an ear to the ground, a finger on the pulse of the zeitgeist, should have seen this one coming a long time ago.
After all, people like Jamie Oliver and others (what about Fast Food Nation or Supersize Me?) have been drawing attention to processed meats for years.
Now the slime really has hit the fan and there’s brand fallout.
One of the makers of pink slime, AFA Foods Inc., of King of Prussia, Pa., has filed for bankruptcy protection and directly blamed the pink slime controversy for it.
According to Matthew Enis, an editor at Supermarket News, “Almost every major supermarket chain has ordered their suppliers to
stop using the ingredient in ground meat products sold to their stores”
Enis went on to say:“Unlike most other major meat suppliers, AFA wasn’t very
diversified—no pork or chicken or steaks. Ground beef is pretty much all
they do, so this was especially difficult for them.”
I want to stop right there. “Ground beef is pretty much all they do…”
That’s poor branding. Why? Because a crisis like the outcry over pink slime doesn’t just come out the blue. It might seem to, but there is almost always a warning, in fact, lots of warnings that smart brands heed and adapt to before things really go wrong.
First of all, as far as I can tell the pink slime industry or as they would call themselves the “lean finely textured beef” industry never took action to protect themselves or explain wy what they produced wasn’t as bad as everyone said it was. They couldn’t, you say, because it really is bad.
But fact is, if you take a closer look at almost any meat preparation, you’re sure to turn a lot of stomachs. The entire industry is premised on people not taking that closer look –as are many finished product industries (at some point in the production process, processed dairy whips are said to be blue).
The lesson here is that the writing was on the wall for pink slime a long time ago and some action needed to be taken before the firestorm. It’s possible that nothing would have helped, but from a company and brand perspective, it’s better to take action and if necessary diversify out of the problem business before it’s too late.
And remember, it’s always easier when you keep marketing and branding in mind.
TODAY’S TANTILLO TAKEAWAY— Do you have a “pink slime” issue lurking in your business?