Food and Sex: Pure Marketing Genius

19 01 2008

Marketing and advertising, though admittedly garish and annoying, are also fascinating. I remember studying subliminal marketing in college. Supposedly, cigarette smokers are obsessed with fingers and holding objects in them. According to the professor, who was armed with numerous slides, marketers used this in print ads by picturing smokers who had one or more fingers “missing” by having them obscured behind an object, or curled into the palm, etc. I don’t know if this is actually true or if it made people buy more of that brand of cigarette, but it was a more interesting class than World History.

I am more certain of another technique. If you are over the age of 8, you are fully aware that sex sells, and marketers are not at all shy about using it. I find it most interesting when it is used in naming food items.

There are some obvious examples of this and some that are a little more subtle. Here are a few of my favorites:

HoHos. Who thought this was an appropriate name for a snack aimed at kids? Was the brand Floozy Hookers already taken? Someone should start a boycott. I’d do it, but I’m far too busy blogging while watching tennis on tv. (My inspiration for this blog came from allimac. Check it out.)

Bourbon Balls. Now this sounds more like a medical condition than a food. Don’t try to tell me that I am reading too much into the name. They could have just as easily called them bourbon ovals, but no.

Wieners. Please. Can’t we all just call them hot dogs? Actually, it might not be fair to other meats that these particular items are referred to as hot. In today’s society, you don’t want to offend anyone. The poor polish sausages in the meat case might feel unattractive if everyone keeps calling the wieners hot. (I don’t even want to think about the self-esteem issues of cold cuts.) As if the term wiener wasn’t blatant enough, someone thought it would be a good idea to sometimes put the word cocktail in front of it just to add a little more innuendo. Even better, someone else thought there should be foot-long wieners. This is very insensitive. Some guys out there are made to feel very inadequate around these things. Other items that make a guy feel he can’t measure up include: Green Giant, “Big Gulp” sized soft drinks at convenience stores, and LONG john donuts (cream-filled for good measure). While I’m on this subject, it’s just wrong to make a guy say “super size me” or “make mine a whopper” while standing in a busy line at a fast food restaurant.

Donut Holes. That is just plain dirty.

Cheese Nips. Are these snacks more noticeable when it’s cold outside?

Extra Virgin Olive Oil. How does something get to be extra virgin? I’m thinking there is no virgin oil used when making Easy Mac, Wild Cherry Life Savers, or Pop Tarts.

Oh Henry! candy bars. I’m not sure exactly what Henry is doing, but he should write a book so that we can all get such an enthusiastic response.

Lay’s Potato Chips. Sad, just sad. At least their slogan is not, “When is the last time you got LAYed?” (Not yet, anyway.)

Pound Cake. Is this a noun, or a verb?

It could be worse. That candy with the slogan “melts in your mouth, not in your hands” could have been called S & M’s with just one small letter change.

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