Monday, September 14, 2009

A Man, A Dog, & Beans

From Content Marketing Today:

Dogs and Baked Beans a Dangerous Combination? Not for the Bush Family of Products!

Posted: 04 Sep 2009 05:54 AM PDT

bush grillin beans commercial Why a talkative canine was able to put a family-owned business in our collective consciousness

One can only imagine the original ad agency pitch to the company when they suggested having the company president and a talking golden retriever be the centerpiece of a national marketing campaign. It must’ve seemed just as crazy as the idea of the AFLAC duck.

But, in fact, it has proved to be just as successful. Just as AFLAC went from complete obscurity to pervasive brand recognition, so too have Bush’s Baked Beans become a successful national brand. This family-owned company from Tennessee now has the best-selling baked bean brand in the United States. Even for a talking dog, that’s an extraordinary accomplishment.

Why Bush’s and Duke, the talking gold retriever, get it right

bush baked beans flying pig commercial

Click here to view the video

As probably everyone in America knows, from the beginning of the series it was Duke’s idea to sell the secret family recipe (and, by the way, there really is a secret Bush family recipe). The commercials, which have now been running for more than a decade, are always amusing and sometimes laugh out loud funny–as with Duke’s effort to get a pig to fly from the roof of the family home.

But, the commercials work, not just because they are funny in the same way that the Progressive Flo series or AFLAC commercials are funny but because they similarly nail a consistent message that viewers will remember and associate with the value of the brand.

In the case of Bush’s Baked Beans, we come to believe that they are going to taste great because of the secret family recipe. The company could have done a standard commercial that talked for 60 seconds about how great tasting they were and how much we would all enjoy them. What makes the commercials, the product, and the company memorable is the introduction of the lovable, larcenous, and talkative Golden retriever.

In addition, each commercial tells the story which is easy to remember and even to retell. If you have seen the commercials you almost certainly remember and can probably visualize individual commercials. This might include the introduction of the grillin’ beans that put Jay Bush’s identity into question, and the fake ghost of grandpa Bush played by Duke or the flying pig episode.

Of course, it’s important that the commercials and the stories they tell are memorable. But what’s more important is each one of them carries a simple product message. Usually, it has to do with how valuable the secret recipe is because it enables the creation of a fabulous product. But in the case of the grillin’ beans, they used it to introduce a brand-new product and to make us believe that it will be even better if we combine it with stuff that we cook on the grill.

Storytelling is critical to successful marketing. But make sure that the stories you tell drive home the reasons that your customers will benefit when they buy from you.

On behalf of the Bush folks, our friend Duke makes is pretty doggone (sorry!) hungry for those baked beans. That’s a well-told story that is well-worth telling.

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