Tuesday, June 18, 2013

If Kraft wants us to "Get Zesty," they'll have to do better than this.

Have you met this guy?

Kraft is just one of the latest to join the already crowded bandwagon of companies looking to reinvigorate stale brands with nonsensical characters that toe a line between creepy and cute.

The Evolution of the Always Silly (Sometimes Sexy) Front Man; 3 Simple Examples.

Sample One – Fabio for “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter”

Fabio made us (read: primarily the female population) believe ‘it’s not butter’ during his mid-nineties stint as the butter substitute’s front man. Acquired by Unilever in the late 1980s, “I can’t believe” rose to fame and an eventual lead in the category on the broad, bronze shoulders of the Italian supermodel.

Silly: Yes, in ways that would make a soccer mom blush. | Sexy: Absolutely; but in a corny fantasy sort of way.

Sample Two – The King for “Burger King”

A decade later, and Burger King’s King was an omnipresent, (omnisilent) front man hired to woo a different demographic; men. Lingering and lost without a voice somewhere between McDonald’s and Wendy’s, it was the King’s aloof, almost stalking nature that hooked audiences…provided one could shake the fear of finding him back home waiting with a knife.

Silly: Yes, in a creepy, lock your doors sort of way | Sexy: Not quite (unless you’re into clowns).

Sample Three – Isaiah Mustafa for “Old Spice”

And in the last few years, we’ve got to know Isaiah Mustafa; “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like.” Seriously, Old Spice owes its second chance at life to Isaiah; the product was on life support at P&G. The spots’ are a living, breathing game of advertising Mousetrap and Isaiah’s the marble. Scene by scene, he soars through a non-sequential maze of slapstick comedy that leaves your eyes satisfied and wanting another go-round.

Silly: Yes, product attributes and benefits are laced with hyperbole but no one seems to care. | Sexy: Yes; but subtle and not over-reaching.

It’s time to Get Zesty.

And now, Kraft’s attempt to make salad dressing sexy again (or would it be for the first time)?
Either way, something’s missing. It just doesn’t feel right.

Too sexy? –
Maybe it’s that the actor is too good looking to play a light hearted goof?

Sexy doesn’t pair well with corny. While Isaiah is certainly attractive, he’s got rounded edges that make him more realistic and humble. That’s the kind of build we’re comfortable receiving slap-stick comedy from. It’s like Kraft’s Zesty Guy wants to twist us a balloon animal after just stepping off a swimsuit runway walk.  We can’t shift gears that quickly.

Weak setup?
РSlicing a pepper with the simple draw of a knife; the dissolve of a shirt with the quick stoking of a sauté fire. Maybe the nonsensical elements are just too boring?

Seriously, if you’re going to employ non-realistic story-lines, why stay so tame? Conjure up some elaborate expos√© of how the Zesty Dressing’s ingredients were found/harvested/brought together. Have our Zesty hero walk/run/crawl/climb us through some visually stimulating, faster-paced story board.

Poor Delivery?
The flat effect of Zesty’s voice sucks any life out of the lines.

With Fabio, you had a distinct accent; with Isaiah, you have a highly articulate, booming voice. Kraft’s Zesty Guy couldn’t have a more indistinct method of speech. It’s kinda innocent and bashful, kinda muffled and weak.

Maybe it’s a mixture of all three.   

Am I the only one not feeling it?

Maybe I’m in the minority of those finding the character/sequence impossible to connect with. After all, he’s pretty popular on social media (facebook, YouTube, twitter + virtual postcard sharing).

What do you think of Kraft’s Zesty Guy?

(a bonus that surfaced only after I had assembled this post) One demo he’s not resonating with is One Million Moms. The ultra-conservative group is outraged at the blatant sexuality in the dressing's latest creative:
Seriously though, there's some creative photoshopping on that table cloth...

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