Posted: April 18, 2014, 4:10 p.m.
by Stefanie Dunlap.
With companies beginning to incorporate different types of family dynamics into marketing and advertising, some may think that consumer bases are changing. Consumers are not always a white heterosexual couple with white children. Today, companies are finally including other family types in advertisements and beginning to recognize a huge portion of the consumer base.
One brand that has recently introduced a more diverse and less conventional advertisement is Honey Maid. The graham cracker brand premiered the conversation-starting commercial earlier this month, and what followed was quite shocking. Several angry mothers commented on Honey Maid’s Facebook page expressing their disapproval of the brand’s new commercial and how Honey Maid would no longer be found in their pantry. Senior marketing director of biscuits for U.S. Mondelez, Gary Osifchin, explained what his team aimed to do with this commercial.
“We want to be a brand that is current,” Osifchin said. “No matter how things out there in the world have changed, the enduring value of wholesome connections between parent and child have endured.”
The commercial was accompanied by an entire campaign, complete with its own hashtag: #thisiswholesome. The idea for such a campaign originated from Honey Maid no longer making its products with high-fructose corn syrup. Honey Maid wants its consumers to understand that the company believes each and every type of family is wholesome, and they deserve wholesome snacks. “These families that we portray all have wonderful parent and child connections,” Osifchin said.
Although Honey Maid was confronted by some dissenters, the amount of supporters was overwhelming. As a follow-up, Honey Maid released a video to address its critics. In the video, Honey Maid asked two artists to make something out of the less than positive posts from its customers on social media. The artists rolled up each printed comment to form the word “love.” Next, they rolled up every positive comment and not surprisingly, there were 10 times as many positive comments as there were negative.
David Griner, social editor for Adweek, explained Honey Maid’s strategy in the creation of these videos and ads. “When I first watched the original Honey Maid ad, I knew they were somewhat trying to bait the type of lowlifes who got worked up about Cheerios’ interracial family ad. So I wondered what they had up their sleeve in the way of a follow-up. So it was obviously a calculated move, one they’ve admitted to having planned before the first ad aired, but it ended up generating more publicity than the ad itself. So I’d say it was a smart move.”
To many people, it is shocking that such a commercial would be seen as controversial. As Americans, we have seen countless family types, and it is about time that companies portray this reality in their advertising.
It seems as if implementing diversity into a campaign can be beneficial for your company. “When you’re selling something as boring as graham crackers, you have to go the extra mile to stand out. Generating tons of national attention for a brand that anyone barely thinks about seems like a good exchange for losing a few racist and homophobic customers,” Griner said.
If the Honey Maid example isn’t enough to sell you on diversity being a good idea for companies, look at Cheerios or Chevy. Both companies incorporated “non-conventional” family types in recent advertisements and are certainly gaining more support than they are losing.
I believe we will begin to see more and more of this type of advertising. As Griner noted, “Brands are finally learning what most of us on the Internet already know: haters gonna hate.”