Frank’s RedHot: “I put that $#@* on everything”
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
As a rule of thumb, marketers tend to avoid likening their products to excrement, even when it's an apt comparison. But in its first national television advertising campaign that launched leading up to this year’s Super Bowl, Reckitt Benckiser Group, maker of Frank’s RedHot, does just that.
Frank’s TV spots feature Ethel, an archetypal cute little old lady, exclaiming “I put that [stuff] on everything!” As the expletive is bleeped out, a dab of super-imposed hot sauce covers Ethel’s lips to mask the profanity.
Certainly it is counterintuitive to associate a food brand with a word that - while versatile in its myriad definitions and forms - is most commonly associated with, well, you know. But this unexpected approach is helping Frank’s turn up the heat on longtime category leader Tabasco. In 2011, sales increased 18 percent, unseating Tobasco from the number-one spot for the first time, thanks in part to Frank’s tagline featuring the bleeped number-two word.
There is nothing subtle or particularly clever about Frank’s approach. It blatantly appeals to the lowest common denominator. And the Ethel ads could arguably take a more modern, tongue-in-cheek approach with their execution.
But I applaud the marketers at Reckitt Benckiser Group for taking the chance. The ads are disruptive enough to be memorable, tacky enough to get people talking and just safe enough to avoid unwanted controversy. And, much to the dismay of English-language lovers and prudes everywhere, they are culturally relevant in their use of the natural vernacular “dudes” or “bros” might use in hot-sauce related conversations.
Personally, I’m still partial to Hotlanta Hot Sauce. I love that ______.