Quite some time ago, Laura McD. sent us a link to an NPR story about a new ad campaign for baby carrots (which, if you didn’t know, aren’t actually immature carrots; they’re just regular carrots peeled and cut into small pieces). In an effort to appeal to teens, these ads openly satirize marketing tropes used to sell lots of snacks, especially the effort to market junk food as totally extreme! The website self-consciously makes the link to junk food, winking at the audience about the absurdity of EXTREEEEEME!!!!! marketing, yet hoping that rebranding carrots as similar to junk food, and using the marketing tactics they’re laughing at, actually increases sales. So, for instance, they have new packaging that looks like bags of chips:
The ads serve as a great primer on extreme food marketing cliches, complete with associations with violence (and stupidity), the sexualization of women, and the constant reminder via voiceovers and pounding music that this food is freakin’ extreme, ok?!?!
This one parodies ads that sexualize both women and food and present eating as an indulgence for women:
The ad campaign presents all this with a tongue-in-cheek tone of “isn’t this ridiculous?” But they’re also genuinely trying to rebrand a food product to increase sales, and clearly see the way to do that as downplaying any claims about health and instead using — if mockingly — the same marketing messages advertisers use to sell soda, chips, energy drinks, and other foods aimed at teens (particularly, though not only, teen boys).
As such, they provide a great summary of these marketing techniques and the jesting “Ha ha! We get it! We’re not like the other marketers who try to sell stuff to you! We know this is silly! (Please buy our product, though)” ironic marketing technique.
And now, I highly recommend you go watch the satire of energy drink commercials Lisa posted way back in 2007. It never gets old.