ad fail friday – Nestle

Today’s Ad Fail Friday goes out to a parent company, rather than an individual brand. Why? Because after doing a little digging on our original nominee, we discovered that the 30-second crime against everything good in the world is the result of a recent buy out. Worse, the mere mention of said buyer immediately brought to mind a current campaign for a different product of theirs that is arguably worse than our original offender. And so, without further ado, we bring you this Friday’s nominee: Nestle.

julie warshaw, julie warsawLet’s begin with Butterfinger. The first time I saw their newest ad, my initial distaste gave way to genuine concern about the welfare of their marketing department. This is a brand with a catchphrase so well-known, it’s made cameos on Jeopardy. It’s a brand that managed to obtain the rights to use Bart Simpson at the height of The Simpsons popularity; a feat all the more impressive when you remember that The Simpsons refused to syndicate to any cable network for literally decades. And then there’s the product itself – a deceptively nondescript chocolate exterior hides a flakey, chewy, crunchy, solidifies-in-the-crevices-of-your-teeth, neon orange center made of angel tears and plutonium (I’m guessing). Basically, it’s a candy masterpiece.

The new Butterfinger ad features a generic yellow alien who wakes up in some Area 51-looking place, steals an old Corvette, drives it to a house where two unassuming Young People are eating Butterfingers. The alien hops out of the car, uses his special alien powers to make the Butterfinger fly through the air into his hand and says, “Nobody better lay a finger on my better Butterfinger.” Dude, the damn thing wasn’t yours to begin with. And Butterfinger was perfect the way it was – did we, as a society, learn nothing from New Coke? Look, you can launch a completely new ad campaign for a classic product, or you can tweak a classic campaign for a beloved product you had the hutzpah to fool with and are calling “new.” But to do both? Double fail.

julie warshaw, julie warsawNext up, Nestle Crunch. I’ll begin by saying I’ve never understood the appeal of Nestle Crunch. Sad rice crispies in chocolate. Blech. The current ad campaign, however, is its own kind of distasteful; teetering between borderline-racism and just plain hack. While the Butterfinger ad grabs you by the back of the head and screams, “LOOK HOW TERRIBLE I AM,” the commercials for Nestle Crunch are subtle. You’ve likely seen one and not even noticed. There are at least three ads in the series currently circling the airwaves, but for the sake of brevity (I know, I know) I’m going to discuss one Nestle ad in particular.

It opens to a cityscape and a Very Important Business Man-type saying Very Important Business Man things into a cell phone. He’s wearing a suit and his hair is in a long braid that hangs over his shoulder. When he sees the camera, he whips his braid behind his back (seriously) and says “Hi, I’m Sparrowhawk and my Nestle Crunch is effing amazeballs.” (I’m paraphrasing.) In case you weren’t able to surmise that this Very Important Business Man is, in fact, Native American, Nestle doubles-down by reiterating the guy’s name in large font at the bottom-left of the screen:”Sparrowhawk.” A little much, but Nestle is obviously saying that the consumer-base for their Crunch bar is diverse. No big deal.

Then I checked out the all-caps, not-so-fine print written in white across a black bar on the bottom of the screen. “PAID ACTOR ENDORSEMENTS FOR PRODUCTS. INDIVIDUALS IN THE SPOT ARE FICTITIOUS.” Now, I have zero problems with actors delivering the testimonies of “real people” in ads; it’s pretty standard and this ad is obviously meant to be a testimonial. Except it’s not. This actor is providing a testimonial of a made-up person. They couldn’t find a single Nestle Crunch-loving Native American upon whom to base this ad, so they made one up and named him “Sparrowhawk”? Just writing it makes me uncomfortable. The whole campaign is clearly attempting to capitalize on the 2019 diversity craze, which it does with the subtlety wet-toweled smack to the face.

Sorry Nestle, but we’re dropping you from the Hallmark Channel and Fuller House. Fail.