Further proof that no advertising “idea” is too stupid to be mimicked.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s, Imperial Margarine ran a TV campaign with a memorable, if irritating, mnemonic device. When someone in one of their commercials bit down on some food with their margarine spread onto it, a crown would magically appear on the person’s head, and a trumpet would announce the arrival of this crown with a four-note fanfare: ta—ta ta da.

Now, 40 years later, we  have a campaign for Jimmy Dean foods in which we see a person biting a Jimmy Dean sandwich, smiling and growing a crown on his head, which he now infects someone else with by smiling at them, and that person smiles at someone else who in turn grows a crown.  So, apparently, you can enjoy the benefit of Jimmy Dean by association,  just by being somewhere in proximity to someone who was smiled at by someone who ate some Jimmy Dean product. The Jimmy Dean folks call this passing on of the crown “shining it forward”.

(In fairness, the animated “crown” in these commercials is intended to be more like sun rays emanating from the person’s head, but it looks like a crown to me. In either case, it’s oh so hokey.)

 The notion that eating some Jimmy Dean sausage or whatever will make you happy and cause you to do or say nice things to other people, who will in turn will “Shine it on” is the kind of typical make believe that agencies convince themselves of, then convince the client of. Pretty soon, Jimmy Dean will be teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony as well.

 What makes this development doubly pathetic is that it replaces a pretty good, ten-year-long Jimmy Dean campaign that featured a guy in a charming sun costume—called the “Sunshine Mascot”. He would have charming, brief conversations with people in costumes that suggested a cloud, the moon, planets, or just regular people. Some of the spots from the first year or two of this campaign were, one man’s opinion, exceptional in their likability. And, because the situations were fanciful, the notion of brightening someone’s day with a sausage was far easier to swallow than in the new campaign.

For the record, the old campaign was created by TBWA/Chiat/ Day. This new, lame-o campaign was done by O&M. Sad. And, reading about this campaign in the ad media, one gets the impression that the agency was far more excited about having a campaign that is, “made for digital at its core”, than about the quality of the idea itself. It’s apparent that the TV spots were an afterthought.

Both of these campaigns are anchored by the inconsequential tagline, Shine On.

Neither credit nor blame can be assigned to the tagline, since both a good campaign and a stupid campaign sprung from its loins.

In the world I inhabit, had the tagline been required to be about shining on, I would at least have tried to make it a little bit interesting. How about . . .

Shine On, You Crazy Sausage. 

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