The best and most enduring ads are likely not the ones that shock and surprise us, so much as the ones that we recognize as all too real. The taglines and slogans that somehow come close to our sense of how things are become the ones we remember. The characters in ads that look and sound like the people we know in some essential and comic way are the ones that register at the deepest levels.
And so the simple blunt grumpiness of Oscar Mayer's “transparent” grandpa series of TV ads has that quality. This is the grandpa who almost always says something a little too candid about the long-haired boy who just walked in the door looking “like a girl” or that family secret about just how many months after my parents' wedding I was born. We all know someone like that.
The Oscar Mayer “What You See Is What You Get” campaign featuring Grandpa Frank may not have the cultural resonance of the fast-talking Federal Express guy or Alka-Seltzer’s legendary Ralph who “ate the whole thing.” But Oscar Mayer is doing its best to prime the pump.
In a new partnership with the multimedia app Montaj, users can create their own Grandpa Frank ads in which the crusty character's snide asides are cut into your own videos. The app supplies a trove of what are called Frank-isms that the user can easily slip between clips, and the app ends each session with the Oscar Meyer brand message about transparency in deli meats.
User-generated projects are then uploaded for others to see and vote on. The best examples will be shared across Oscar Mayer's Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels, with some even making it into the next iterations of the TV ads themselves.
The basic idea is quite sound. Giving users the opportunity to play with advertising creative and be a part of the entertaining ad experience is exactly what brands should be aiming to do. All of these things are always possible on the desktop Web -- they just were harder to do.
It remains to be seen whether people really embrace the possibilities here of making their own ad. It is only a day or two into the program, but the only videos that I am seeing on the quote leaderboard involve clean-cut guys who look suspiciously like digital marketers from the staff of one of these companies putting in a few seed videos.