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October 11, 2010 12:39 PM   Subscribe

We're thin and stacked, so lose the old bag. Pretzel Thins first ad campaign got taken down after a bit of backlash. Now, they've created a webpage where they're asking people to "lighten up," calling their campaign provocative and asking people to vote on what they think of the ads.
posted by dzaz (66 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Please, people. I know this is out of character for me, but I urge you to vote "What's a Pretzel Crisp" (A) It totally foils their bullshit "no publicity is bad publicity" campaign, and (B) I mean WTF there's not even a question mark at the end of that poll option.
posted by muddgirl at 12:41 PM on October 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


Pretzi Blue?
posted by Xoebe at 12:42 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


This completely validates my hatred of pretzels.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:45 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oooh, classy. Saying "You think our ads are provocative?" and adding a Godaddy video embed? Two wrongs don't make a right (but two Wrights can make an airplane).
posted by dabitch at 12:46 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Excellent idea, muddgirl. Consider it done.

And you'll take my Snyder's of Hanover Sourdough Hard Pretzels when you pry them from my cold, fat hands.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:47 PM on October 11, 2010 [6 favorites]


The second link has this clunker of a line in it: Photos of the ad was posted on a women’s blog called Jezebel followed by a scathing and condemning posts angry at the implications of such a message: “you can never be too thin”.

My opinion? Marketing: three drink minimum. (A Scott Adams slogan if I remember correctly.)

Is a stupid marketing campaign that doing exactly what they want.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:48 PM on October 11, 2010


Faint of Butt: "And you'll take my Snyder's of Hanover Sourdough Hard Pretzels when you pry them from my cold, fat hands."

If you like the thin-pretzel-like-a-chip concept and are looking to switch, Snyder's also makes a version of these. At the moment, I'm enjoying some tasty Snyders peanut butter pretzel sandwiches.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 12:48 PM on October 11, 2010


They want you to compare their ad to GoDaddy's and ask yourself which is in poorer taste?
posted by tommasz at 12:48 PM on October 11, 2010


I imagine getting a toehold in the oversaturated junk food market is no easy task, but I just got a little pissed at the whole "you can never be too thin" campaign and instead of them just creating a friggin' tasty treat and selling it, they're upping the obnoxiousness and being coy about it.

And I like pretzels. Pretzels are yummy.
posted by dzaz at 12:49 PM on October 11, 2010


I wonder how much godaddy is paying to advertise on their site?

Mailing address:

Pretzel Crisp
P.O. Box 3562
Princeton, NJ 08543

You know, for letters that take a stamp.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:53 PM on October 11, 2010


Oh, look. Now they've found publicity here. Looks like it worked.
posted by gurple at 12:57 PM on October 11, 2010


Two wrongs don't make a right (but two Wrights can make an airplane).

And three lefts make a right.

I like pretzels too, but popcorn is better for you.

What's this about blue crisps?
posted by mrgrimm at 12:58 PM on October 11, 2010


Company trolls for viral video success; Metafilter bites.
posted by Rumple at 12:59 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Women: Down with sexism! Down with sexism!
Man 1: Look at all those feminists.
Man 2: Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

[they both reach for bottles of Duff, shake them up, and spray the foam on the protesters. This magically turns them into bikini-clad party animals.]
posted by Skot at 12:59 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Wrong, Skot. I tried that and it didn't work. Plus it was a waste of beer.

Also, I don't like pretzels and these look particularly unappetizing which may explain the need to manufacture controversy.
posted by jonmc at 1:02 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Nothing tastes as good as GRAR! feels.
posted by dr_dank at 1:03 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just sent an email that closed with:
Congratulations, marketing team: you've made the world a tiny bit worse for women AND lost another customer.
posted by Elsa at 1:04 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


Boy, that GoDaddy ad sure was… not the subject of the post?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:09 PM on October 11, 2010


Yeah, you know, it is offensive but, holy shit, is it an effective ad. So, fuck off and well done, I guess.
posted by josher71 at 1:11 PM on October 11, 2010


So, when does Jezebel mob up on all those women like my mom who buy the "You can never be too rich or too thin" aprons?
posted by spicynuts at 1:15 PM on October 11, 2010


So, when does Jezebel mob up on all those women like my mom who buy the "You can never be too rich or too thin" aprons?

The general consensus is "worse than Pol Pot, better than Hitler." I'm so sorry you had to find out this way.
posted by muddgirl at 1:19 PM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


They replaced the first ad over concerns it was pro-anorexia with one whose tag line read: “Taste as good as skinny feels.”

Wow. Just, wow. The stupidity is just mind-boggling.
posted by zarq at 1:28 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


This completely validates my hatred of pretzels.

Pretzels are such a buzzkill in Chex Mix.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:31 PM on October 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


Wow. Just, wow. The stupidity is just mind-boggling.

It's obviously a calculated "there's no such thing as bad publicity" approach. Their calculation will only be wrong if there are more people who hate it and stop buying their products than there are people who when standing at the pretzel rack think "oh, Pringle's, I've heard of them" and grab a pack.

My money is on the latter far outnumbering the former but I would like to be surprised.
posted by Rumple at 1:32 PM on October 11, 2010


Why the pretzel hate? Peanut butter filled pretzels covered in chocolate are the best treats of all time.
posted by josher71 at 1:36 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


Please, people. I know this is out of character for me, but I urge you to vote "What's a Pretzel Crisp" (A) It totally foils their bullshit "no publicity is bad publicity" campaign

No it doesn't. Marketers will usually interpret someone choosing that option as a user saying that they don't have a negative opinion of the ads. The ads attracted them to the site, and they want to learn more about the product. Once you've visited the site, they've won.

If you want to make a difference and have your voice heard, do this:

In the poll: Tell the truth: you hate it.

But far more important than that stupid poll: a) write to them and express that and b) if you have a blog and twitter, complain there and encourage others to do the same.

We PR reps pay far more attention to how their products and clients are received via eMail, snail mail and blog posts than the results of a stupid website poll. A poll is easy to explain away. Multiple, outraged blog posts are not. And if they're at all intelligent (which I question) they'll understand that there most certainly is such a thing as bad publicity and they're gathering reams of it.
posted by zarq at 1:39 PM on October 11, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's obviously a calculated "there's no such thing as bad publicity" approach.


I'm a publicist. When I say, "Wow. Just, wow. The stupidity is just mind-boggling." I mean they're either stupid enough to believe the horseshit line "there's no such thing as bad publicity,' and/or they're stupid enough to think that once they've generated outrage, it will go away if they make a teeny tiny cosmetic change that isn't really a change at all.

Their calculation will only be wrong if there are more people who hate it and stop buying their products than there are people who when standing at the pretzel rack think "oh, Pringle's, I've heard of them" and grab a pack.

The impact on their bottom line would have to be immense and clearly apparent to the company in order to matter.
posted by zarq at 1:43 PM on October 11, 2010


Hysterical, trying to justify yourself by saying look, SleazeSEOKing is worse. Yes, you're both bad, naughty, naughty!
posted by cavalier at 1:44 PM on October 11, 2010


Peanut butter filled pretzels covered in chocolate are the best treats of all time.

Look at how much has to be done to them in the quest for deliciousness, though. They're really a sub-element in that scenario compared to the chocolate and peanut butter. You could put anything with chocolate and peanut butter. I mean, within reason.

They're particularly bad in Chex Mix because their smooth surface doesn't allow for much powdery junk adhesion. Also, I'm an adult so if I want to sift through and find the delicious bagel chips I have to be discreet about it and can't sit there and stare into the bowl, moving the pretzels out of the way to find the good bits.

I actually think pretzel thins would be preferable to actual pretzels. Not by much, though.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:45 PM on October 11, 2010


Congratulations, marketing team: you've made the world a tiny bit worse for women AND lost another customer.

You know that dictum that if an ad doesn't appeal to you, then you're probably just not the target market? Apart from the viral marketing aspect, I think that's what they're doing here.

With their "thin" branding & quotes pulled from the pro-anorexic community, they're trying to establish a mental link that their product is a light, healthy choice for dieters.

As a snack food, you can pretty much assume that it's not going to be healthy, and that turns out to be true: one tiny serve contains a whopping 14% of your daily sodium. So, the company never really had the market of people who pay serious attention to nutrition labels - which includes both anorexics & people who think enough to care what they put into their mouths.

Instead, the market that they're aiming at is the people who don't really pay attention or care enough to know what they are eating, but might be swayed by the preposterous lie that a snack food might be good for them. These are the kinds of people who don't like to intellectualise things too much, and are therefore not really likely to notice or care about the antifeminist implications of the stolen pro-ana slogans.

So if you're offended then congratulations for being on the ball, but they weren't trying to sell to you in the first place.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:57 PM on October 11, 2010


or they're stupid enough to think that once they've generated outrage, it will go away if they make a teeny tiny cosmetic change that isn't really a change at all.

They're getting twice the publicity by making a tiny cosmetic change. You're a publicist - are they really not doing this deliberately in order to get as much publicity ("good" or "bad", depending) as possible? I mean, "cyanide in tylenol" is truly bad publicity, people loudly debating your product pro and con is probably not bad publicity until the cons get out of control. I find it hard to believe, that this is not a deliberate ploy to milk this viral publicity episode for all it is worth, but maybe I give them too much credit.

I mean, until today, I never knew Pringles even made pretzels.
posted by Rumple at 1:59 PM on October 11, 2010


Look at how much has to be done to them in the quest for deliciousness, though.

But they were already delicious and I find that the pretzel is the perfect combination of the admittedly dangerously wonderful mix of peanut butter and chocolate.
posted by josher71 at 2:00 PM on October 11, 2010


Pretzels were first made by monks, I believe in the interest of creating a food that stores a while and has just as little taste when it's stale as it did on day one.
posted by longsleeves at 2:01 PM on October 11, 2010


Pretzels are such a buzzkill in Chex Mix.

I actually want an all Chex Chex Mix. "But Sourwookie," you say "why not just eat a box of Chex?" Please. It's not the same and you know it.

I find it interesting how over the years Chex Mix has turned into something else because of materials cost. The recipe for Chex Mix is everywhere, yet what they sell as Chex Mix has deviated greately from their own recipe.

First, they discovered peanuts were expensive, so those have got to go (I know, I know, "Peanut Lover's" Chex Mix). Then they realized Chex is expensive. Damn. So the past decade has been a study in how to replace yummy Chex with bland filler. "Bread Stix?" Never been on the recipe on the box but they're cheap so throw 'em in! Pretzels? Cheap too! Let's double up on them! I swear, by 2020 you'll have to buy the special "Chex Mix Throwback Chex Edition Chex Mix With Chex" in order to actually get any Chex in your Chex Mix.
posted by sourwookie at 2:08 PM on October 11, 2010 [13 favorites]


So if you're offended then congratulations for being on the ball, but they weren't trying to sell to you in the first place.

To which I have to ask you, who makes the food purchasing decisions in a majority of American family households? Women. Specifically, moms and wives. They are of course, the second demographic the company will want to target after teens.

In fact, multiple polls I've seen over the years indicate women are responsible for purchasing food in between 85% and 90% of American family households. Also, SheConomy says it's even higher: 93% -- but they're probably a biased source.

American moms buy snack food for their kids. They're probably more likely to buy snack food that says it's healthy on the bag even if they don't bother check the label.

If the company wasn't looking to target women, who are probably already quite aware of negative body image messages in popular media, then they're complete idiots.
posted by zarq at 2:12 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Bread Stix?" Never been on the recipe on the box but they're cheap so throw 'em in!

Those things are the emptiness that junk food is made to squash. They should call them Despair Nubbins.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:18 PM on October 11, 2010 [18 favorites]


They're getting twice the publicity by making a tiny cosmetic change. You're a publicist - are they really not doing this deliberately in order to get as much publicity ("good" or "bad", depending) as possible?

I think it's very likely they're doing so. Which is why I suggested people speak out against the ads in more effective ways than voting in a poll.

But it's perfectly possible they're just really, really stupid, too. I try to never underestimate the astonishingly stupidity ideas that might be belched forth by corporate marketing, public relations and advertising departments. :)

I mean, "cyanide in tylenol" is truly bad publicity,

Here's when it isn't bad: when the company responds immediately and constructively in a very transparent manner. When they say, "this isn't our fault, but we're taking responsibility and putting our customers first because they're more valuable than our reputation." If a company gets out in front of a crisis and does it intelligently, they can often ameliorate the effects of even a truly terrible public relations disaster.

... people loudly debating your product pro and con is probably not bad publicity until the cons get out of control.

I sort of agree. The world is a different place than it used to be thanks to the internet and social media. So whether something turns into a crisis often depends on each situation and the way the company responds. The Target political donations flap is a good example of a fire that could have easily been extinguished early on but was ignored and allowed to fester until it turned into a nationwide boycott.

I mean, until today, I never knew Pringles even made pretzels.

Yep. They've been making flavored pretzel sticks for a few years now.
posted by zarq at 2:26 PM on October 11, 2010


I actually want an all Chex Chex Mix. "But Sourwookie," you say "why not just eat a box of Chex?" Please. It's not the same and you know it.

Add salt or MSG-based flavor additive (mrs. dash, etc.) and it is the same.

who are probably already quite aware of negative body image messages in popular media

I think you've got a point, but it's still a big leap. I would propose that "You can never be too thin" is not offensive to the majority of female Americans.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:28 PM on October 11, 2010


I would propose that "You can never be too thin" is not offensive to the majority of female Americans.

I fervently hope this is not true.
posted by dzaz at 2:37 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think you've got a point, but it's still a big leap. I would propose that "You can never be too thin" is not offensive to the majority of female Americans.

Which was pretty much my point. The people switched on enough to be offended are probably the upper x% of educated types, who were far less likely to be eating this junk in the first place. They're aiming for the regular Janes of middle America, people who will absorb the message that these things are slimming without too much analysis.

And it doesn't need to be thought about deeply. Purchasing decisions are very often made in the last metre, as one approaches the snack stand..."What shall I have? What do I feel like? Oh, Pretzel Blue! That's a good, light option..."
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:39 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


SNYDERS OF HANOVER MOTHERFUCKERS
posted by everichon at 2:46 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would propose that "You can never be too thin" is not offensive to the majority of female Americans.

Maybe, maybe not. But "we're thin and stacked, so lose the old bag" is bound to piss off a significant number of middle-aged wives and moms. Thin and stacked is supposed to be the ideal porn model look, and not being able to live up to that so-called ideal already makes many women feel insecure and crappy. And we're supposed to giggle at the implication that those who are not "thin and stacked" are just disposable old bags, and as a result feel really inspired to pick up some smug, smirking, skinny-ass pretzels when we go grocery shopping? Yeah, probably not.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 2:58 PM on October 11, 2010


I think most people just don't get upset or offended over advertising, period. Maybe if the ad featured crush videos or something. The usual response is maybe a fleeting comment and then it's on to the next ad or, better yet, back to the show / whatever. However, MeFi of course tends towards beanplaters :)
posted by wildcrdj at 3:00 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]


mr grimm: I would propose that "You can never be too thin" is not offensive to the majority of female Americans.

dzaz: I fervently hope this is not true.

Me too.

I'd like to think a number of people would think it's a problematic message. I especially think many moms would think so.
posted by zarq at 3:06 PM on October 11, 2010


I went ahead and voted "What's a pretzel crisp" since I can't get them anywhere in town and have yet to try them.

Oh, sorry...

GRAR! EVIL MINDCONTROLLING CORPORATIONS SUCK! HATE! HATE!
posted by Samizdata at 3:09 PM on October 11, 2010


And I wonder how they would taste with a cool, refreshing Pepsi Blue...
posted by Samizdata at 3:09 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


"we're thin and stacked, so lose the old bag"

Actually, this sounds like the intersection of Andy Capp and Absolutely Fabulous.

"Stacked" and "old bag"? What decade is this? From a writing standpoint, it's tone-deaf or tongue-in-cheek. I suspect both.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:45 PM on October 11, 2010


Heh, I can just see Patsy in Ab Fab - cigarette in one hand, champagne bottle in the other - drawling "we're thin and stacked, so lose the old bag"
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:54 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


UbuRoivas: "Heh, I can just see Patsy in Ab Fab - cigarette in one hand, champagne bottle in the other - drawling "we're thin and stacked, so lose the old bag""

meanwhile, Edina is stuffing handfuls of pretzels in her face while Saffy looks on in disgust.
posted by dzaz at 4:27 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


What I don't understand about it is that, as has been mentioned, this is a light snack of the type that would most likely be bought by moms. Whether or not you think moms will find the ad offensive, what are the odds that moms will find the ad APPEALING? It would be one thing if it were a beer ad, and there was some decent chance that some segment of the target market will find the sensibility of the ad to be up its alley even if other people were offended, but even if you ignore the segment of the population that takes offense, is there any realistically large segment of the customer base for healthy pretzel crisps that's going to find that ad an appealing image?

It seems like the worst-case scenario is that you offend a bunch of people, but the best-case scenario is only that your ad kind of does nothing. So even if the ad isn't dumb because the ad is awful, it's dumb because so many other things would be better. It's like a soft-core ad for Lunchables. Who are you successfully reaching?
posted by Linda_Holmes at 4:32 PM on October 11, 2010


My husband prefers Snyder's Nibblers. Nothing thin nor stacked about 'em, being pretzels and all.
I, however, have been known to say, in a fit of pique, when the shit is hitting the proverbial fan,
"Well, at least I'm not fat!" Don't ask me what I mean when I say that because i don't know either.
posted by emhutchinson at 4:33 PM on October 11, 2010


These pretzels are making me thirsty!
posted by ALongDecember at 4:34 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


And, on the topic of Pretzels, a book I loved as a wee bairn (and still have in my possession, many readers later).
posted by emhutchinson at 4:41 PM on October 11, 2010


what are the odds that moms will find the ad APPEALING?

They don't have to find it appealing. Plenty of ads are obnoxious, and some of the most effective ads are effective precisely because they are annoying, so they stick in your mind.

This ad just has to insert into their heads the product positioning: that this is the light, thin thing that anorexics might eat. That, and a bit of brand awareness, so that when somebody approaches the snack stand, there's a greater chance that they recognise the product as familiar, and associate it with being low calorie.

The gamble that the company is making is that that increased sales from positioning + awareness > lost sales from product boycotts, and you'd have to assume that the ad agency has some reasonably reliable data on the extent to which people go through with boycotts, as well as a decent profile of the market segment that is most likely to boycott, as opposed the people that would either not notice the nasty message, or notice it but shrug it off & buy the product anyway.

And even that is assuming that purchasing decisions are made with rational, conscious thought, which they rarely are anyway. It takes more sustained mental effort to do your shopping according to political principles, as opposed to letting your subconscious nudge you: "get these ones, they're slimming!"
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:55 PM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]


I guess. But it seems to me that there's probably a reason they don't usually use crass "moms are old and gross" humor to market snacks to moms. I'm not sure anything is going to convince anyone that pretzel chips would be eaten by anorexics. (I don't necessarily agree, I should say, with every part of every critique of all these ads; I find the more woefully tin-eared than particularly offensive.)

I don't personally think that ad is especially effective in suggesting that the product is low in calories. They're saying that the pretzels are thin, right? So are potato chips. So are regular Pringles, and they're not health food. I wouldn't actually know these were supposed to be healthy except that I saw the chart on the web page showing how they compare to other chips. I think hoping that "we're thin and stacked" is going to associate your product with healthy food like you might feed kids is very optimistic. And that's exactly my point, is that if you're trying to present the image "healthy snack," I'm not sure how the "thin and stacked" business really does that, or how any number of other ideas might do it better. Again, how is that not true of Pringles?

But obviously, your point about irrational decisions is well-taken.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 5:27 PM on October 11, 2010


Again, how is that not true of Pringles?

Exactly. That's the thing about product positioning: you can have any number of virtually identical products in the same space, so marketers will try to differentiate them in peoples' perceptions, even if there are few or no significant differences in reality. For potato chips, one brand might be positioned as gourmet, another as fun, another as having a strong flavour hit.

Pringles' line (over here, at least) is "once you pop, you can't stop" - they're talking up how deliciously addictive the things are (supposed to be).

Pretzel Blue, on the other hand, is all about talking up the skinniness: "You can never be too thin / tastes as good as skinny feels / we're thin & stacked".

It could well be that those statements apply equally to Pringles, but they're not trying to occupy that same "skinniness" mindspace. Pringles are pretending to be so tasty that you can't help eating the lot - a very different, almost opposite message.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:15 PM on October 11, 2010


I don't think they're pushing any health angle here. I think the point is that these have a high surface-to-volume ratio, giving you lots of yummy outside with minimal bland inside.
posted by sourwookie at 7:33 PM on October 11, 2010


i used to think the twix 'two for me, none for you' thing was assholish but harmless. but then it led to the tea party.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 8:38 PM on October 11, 2010


Crispix are far better than Chex any day.
posted by Evilspork at 2:49 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


I swear, by 2020 you'll have to buy the special "Chex Mix Throwback Chex Edition Chex Mix With Chex" in order to actually get any Chex in your Chex Mix.
posted by sourwookie at 5:08 PM on October 11


Yo dog...
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:02 AM on October 12, 2010


You know that dictum that if an ad doesn't appeal to you, then you're probably just not the target market?

Aaaand that's why I bothered to write the email in the first place: to let them know that I was a frequent consumer of their products, and that the "old bag" stuff made me stop buying their products.

I had an unexamined but automatic brand preference that predisposed me to buy their product. They destroyed that preference. That seems like a valuable thing to let them know.

It's pretty simple: I used to pay them for their product. I will now pay someone else for a similar product. THEY WON'T GET MY MONEY. I may not be the market they wanted to reach, but I was part of the market that they already had reached. And now I'm not.
posted by Elsa at 6:04 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


10:10 <--- Another bad ad.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:44 AM on October 12, 2010


Eh. I'm a middle-aged mom, head of my own damn househould, and I got a laugh, and I've tried 'em, and I like 'em. There are days when I simply LIVE for salt and stupid humor.
posted by thinkpiece at 8:01 AM on October 12, 2010 [2 favorites]


These pretzels are making me thirsty!
posted by mrgrimm at 8:30 AM on October 12, 2010


Eh. I'm a middle-aged mom, head of my own damn househould, and I got a laugh, and I've tried 'em, and I like 'em. There are days when I simply LIVE for salt and stupid humor.

Oh, and I'm an old bag too.
posted by thinkpiece at 9:26 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


In my first reading of the FPP, I read "first aid campaign" and, so, read "we're thin and stacked, so lose the old bag" as triage advice.
posted by Zed at 9:54 AM on October 12, 2010


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