Can TV Ads Really Sell Anything? Ask Broccoli.
A Canadian TV campaign from January touted the miracle health benefits broccoli has to offer.
The company behind the campaign, however, might surprise you. Was it a local grocery store chain? A group of farmers? No and no. The Television Bureau of Canada made the big revelation in September that it created the five-week campaign in an effort to prove that TV ads can sell anything.
And they have the metrics to prove it. The campaign, created by john st., Toronto, increased broccoli sales by 8% compared to store sales from last year. In addition, a whopping 188,574 pounds of broccoli made its way into Canadians' grocery carts during the campaign.
The "Miracle Food" TV campaign consisted of three TV spots, each starring an obsessive broccoli-lover as the veggie's spokesman.
One TV spot, "Parachute," begins with a skydiver surviving a fall after his parachute fails. "It's a miracle," proclaim fellow skydivers. One rogue extreme sports enthusiast, however, doesn't believe his feat was miraculous. He believes broccoli, packed with 12 vitamins and minerals, is a bigger miracle. See it here.
"Octuplets" is set in "Little House on the Prairie" days, showing a wife giving birth to eight babies, at home, sans midwife or modern-day meds. The wife believes it's a miracle. The creepy broccoli-lover from "Parachute" sits at a nearby table, with a different opinion. Babies are just babies, but broccoli is a real miracle, he says as he strokes his veggie stalks. Watch it here.
A man and his dog survive a tornado by taking cover in a "Chimney." Too bad it doesn't rate high in sketchy broccoli-loving man's book. See it here.
"The TVB wasn't setting out to prove that television should be the only medium on every media plan, but they did want to debunk many of the rumors plaguing the medium," said Chris Hirsch, associate creative director/copywriter at john st. "And while we all know television is generally just one ingredient in the media plan, we think this experiment firmly plants television as an essential option for advertisers."
Each TV spot directs viewers to the faux Web site, TheMiracleFood.ca, where users can read the history of broccoli, view four broccoli recipes and read articles touting broccoli's nutritional benefits.
The reveal print ad, seen here, is copy-heavy, describing TVB's January experiment with broccoli. "They say the camera adds 10 pounds. In our case it added 188,574," reads lead copy.
Hirsch explained why broccoli, of all things, was selected as the "tough sell." Not that I'm complaining, I love broccoli.
"When your target is the advertising and media industry itself, we knew we couldn't just tell people that TV works. We needed to prove it, with a product that was already a tough sell to begin with. So we chose broccoli. We figured while we're at it, why not choose a product that may make a few people a little healthier along the way."
The biggest challenge of the campaign was keeping the secret under wraps.
"Productions such as this often involve close to a hundred people, so keeping the lid on the fact that it was a fake campaign for the duration of the campaign was definitely the hardest part. We just wanted to prove that the rumors of TV's death have been greatly exaggerated," concluded Hirsch.