Can the word “New” Make Consumers Look Like Idiots?


I’ve been a big fan of Shreddies all my life. Simple. Tasty. “Good-good whole wheat Shreddies”. They communicated these characteristics to Canadians for 68 years. Then along comes a campaign that makes me look at Shreddies in a whole new light. That’s the intent at least.

This campaign created by Ogilvy Toronto is interesting for a couple of reasons.

1. After seeing the ad on TV, I knew I was slightly cajoled into believing Shreddies was new. After watching this footage, I fail to understand why a marketer would show how cosnumers behave in focus groups. I appreciate the humor, but it leaves a slight taste of disgust in my mouth. I actually feel bad for these people, especially since Ogilvy’s blog is aimed squarely at the ad community.

2. If a product has nothing new about it, does it make sense to create something new just for the sake of creating something new? Why would Shreddies spend millions on a message the dupes consumers? Why not spend that money educating consumers about the benefits of wheat? The history of Shreddies? A donation to wheat farmers in Alberta or Saskatchewan? Wouldn’t that be money better spent?


1 Response to “Can the word “New” Make Consumers Look Like Idiots?”

  1. 1 jted February 8, 2008 at 6:09 pm

    Do consumers really look like idiots, or is this merely an acknowledgment that companies look like idiots when they keep trying to re-invent themselves (remember NEW Coke)? I like this campaign quite a bit, and mostly because it EXPOSES THE SPIN. The spin, in this case, is quite literal. Shreddies pretends to cover for the fact that they have been square for so long, they don’t know what to do when their product get’s turned on it’s corner. The joke’s on them.

    Then, during the focus groups, I don’t feel sorry for the people that are being filmed. People often say what they think a person in authority (the moderator) wants to hear. So who looks stupid in those spots? I think it’s the whole idea of market research that looks stupid. People will say anything, EVEN IF IT’S THE SAME PRODUCT, just because it is expected of them. Any one of us would have acted similarly (if it weren’t for our cynical nature brought on by too much advertising exposure). It really exposes the meaninglessness of some product testing.

    And of course, to your last point about education and/or donations, yes those would all be fantastic ideas if they would work. But people demand to be entertained, and it’s very difficult to get a consumer excited about the history of wheat. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, Shreddies has simply acknowledged, in a silly attention-getting way, that they are still the exact same. But you kinda want to try the diamond ones anyway, just to see, don’t you?


    Disclosure: I consulted on some of the online aspects of this campaign, but the opinions reflected in this comment are completely my own.

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February 2008
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