Commentary

No Funt-Factor: Jamba Loses Its Juice

Last year Jamba Juice got its berries in a bunch over fast food outlets horning in on its smoothies market. So they fought back with a clever and very well-made commercial satire of a cheeseburger-flavored smoothie. You know the angle here. We don't try to make hamburgers, so why are they trying to make smoothies? Well this year the line has changed as Jamba Juice itself has discovered that expanding the menu might attract new customers. Okay we're all diversifying, now. This time, oatmeal is the battle ground.

In order to differentiate itself from the competition, Jamba jumps all over the fact that some rival morning oatmeal offerings are just instant oats. And so the video campaign highlights attempts to foist "instant" versions of popcorn at a movie theater and instant press-on nails on customers to a salon. "At Jamba Juice we think you deserve better. We serve organic steel-cut oats that are slow-cooked fresh every morning and packed with wow." For you oatmeal connoisseurs out there, steel-cut oats come from the interior of whole grain oat kernels, while instant variations are pre-processed, steamed and sliced into flakes pretty much like instant coffee. Thank God Jamba Juice is there early in the morning to cook this precious mana from mother Earth for the requisite 45 minutes. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to toss on the special JJ toppings, like the blueberry something-or-other goop that looks like toppings for an Entenmann's cheesecake.

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How far the clever have fallen. While the first Jamba Juice viral video campaign was a spot-on send-up that let the viewer discover the joke, this "we heart slow cooked" campaign just wilts. The conceit is using the hidden camera ploy to capture the shocked (shocked we say) looks of people handed instant popcorn at a movie theater concession or instant press-ons by their nail stylist. Let the hilarity ensue.

It doesn't. The clips are remarkably boring, and they look more staged and populated by bad actors than anything else. The situations seem stupid rather than provocative. At one point in the movie theater sequence a man approaches a faux-livid patron and asks if she is single, because he thinks it's "hot" that she is so angry. When you have to underscore one lame routine with a second one and both fall flat, then it is best to move on to another idea.

The victims' reactions are almost benign, as if they are ready to believe anything of a merchant at this point. If anything these hidden camera takes suggest a culture almost accustomed to being treated like idiots. Worse, the path to the message is just too tortured. The original Jamba Juice cheeseburger smoothie campaign waited until the end to deliver the punch line, but it was entertaining throughout anyway. This is just tedious and unfunny.

Maybe the Candid Camera/microphone routine worked better when Alan Funt introduced the idea first on radio and then on TV. We were more repressed back then and the line between composure and expressiveness was funnier. Funt's tagline was "People caught in the act of being themselves." Half a century later "being ourselves" and unrestrained expressiveness are the norm. What's left to laugh at?

2 comments about "No Funt-Factor: Jamba Loses Its Juice ".
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  1. Ran Shenhar from Cricket Communication, January 26, 2011 at 4:36 p.m.

    Spot on!
    I thought I "didn't get" the joke or something - but reading this review it seems as at least one other person agrees that they didn't deliver one.

    OK, feeling better with myself now.

  2. Debra Gaynor from Marina Maher Communications, January 26, 2011 at 5:20 p.m.

    say what you will. I had their oatmeal for the first time last month and it was an out of body experience.

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