Would you like fries with that? I would, and likely, so would you. After all, it’s a ubiquitously known question and we all seem to find ourselves replying “yes” to it. Whether you order a pizza slice, a burger, or something else, this savory delicacy will be offered on the side for a drastically low price. It’s the crown symbol of American fast food in an era where the tastiest treats are the cheapest ones and obesity correlates negatively with wealth. Many of us can remember treasured times when we were young, special occasions where we would skip the broccoli dinner and instead go to the local McDonald’s and have a “Kid’s Meal”. Ore-Ida, an Oregon & Idaho company and one of the largest French fry brands in America, knows this well and wants to remind you of it with their highly effective advertisement, “Introducing Potato-Pay”.
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Ore-Ida’s advertisement begins with the setting of a family of four eating at the dinner table. Conflict is in the air, as the father of the two daughter’s asks them to “just have one broccoli”. Naturally, they both groan and yell back “no!”. The parents look at each other with exasperation and a stranger suddenly walks in claiming she has the perfect solution, “Potato-Pay”. She suggests that the parents bribe the children with French fries! The parents discuss the idea and decide to do so, and in the end the children are happy and they eat both the French fries and broccoli.
Ore-Ida designed the advertisement intelligently when focussing on a target audience. The advertisement targets both parents and children, in that it encourages parent’s to purchase Ore-Ida French fries more and it encourages children to eat them more as well. Usually in advertisement design it is better to focus on a single group of a similar demographic at the benefit of better efficacy and having less marketing channels to manage, but this case is an exception; Ore-Ida cleverly realized that both parents and children live in the same home, so it’s easy to broadcast the advertisement to both the parents and the children at once.
The main message of the advertisement is also striking – “introducing Potato-Pay”. Ore-Ida decided to capitalize on the trope of introducing exciting new products with this title. Apple, an American technology company, is famous for incredible advertising leads many of it’s advertisements and product launches with the “introducing…” pathway. Many folks at home tend to tune out and stop listening when advertisements are playing, but when “introducing Potato-Pay” is heard, attention will be immediately drawn to the advertisement. This phenomenon is not uncommon these days and advertisements that make use of these tricks are known for their efficacy, under the grouping “sneaky ads”.
One interesting insight, that can only be seen upon close examination of the advertisement, is that when the stranger suggests bribing the children with French fries, one of the parents, the mother, looks aghast. If the parents immediately decided to take the stranger’s advice, the parents watching the advertisement would begin to feel detached from the scene as it would be both unrealistic and the parents in the scene wouldn’t be putting in due thought to considering the stranger’s suggestion. However, instead of immediately bribing the children, the mother asks the husband “do you not have a problem with this? We’re justing going to trust a random woman?” and the husband thinks before pointing out that the stranger isn’t unreasonable. Eventually the parents decide to give the children the French fries, but only after it’s clear to the viewer that they considered both options with their children’s best interest in mind. The viewer observes the parents’ decision and is more likely to make the same decision for their own children. This is actually a well know cognitive fallacy, known as an “appeal to consequences”.
Ore-Ida shows the parent’s coming to certain decision which results in them consequence of them giving their children French fries, and an observer will wrongly use the conclusion of the advertisement as evidence for what’s actually the correct decision. This “appeal to consequences” was done strategically as it was performed in a subliminal manner, all in the span of five seconds. Another strategy Ore-Ida uses it to employ allusion to gather the viewer’s interest during the introduction of the advertisement. When the stranger enters the scene here first words are “Isn’t this struggle familiar? I mean, who has time for this shit?”. Immediately, any viewer who has children and has therefore likely encountered the problem of getting their kids to eat their vegetables will pay attention, because Ore-Ida has identified a problem the viewer has and provides hope to the viewer that there is a solution. The rest of the advertisement simply builds on this premise of solving this problem with “Potato-Pay”. This attention strategy is made clearer by the fact that when the stranger poses these rhetorical questions, the parents look up at the stranger and their expressions change to have some hope and intrigue.
Over the course of the advertisement the mood slowly changes. At the beginning everyone in the seem looks bored and unhappy, but by the end everyone looks ecstatic. This change of mood parallels how the parent’s problem is solved over the course of the advertisement. At first, the parent’s are unhappy that they have to repeatedly ask the children to eat their broccoli and the children are unhappy because they don’t like their dinner. However, as the advertisement concludes, the children are enjoying their dinner and the parent’s don’t have to worry anymore. This change of mood was well done as there was no dramatic shift in mood at any given time during the advertisement, but rather a shift is only noticeable when the two distant points in time are compared.
A more subtle technique Ore-Ida uses is the employment of visual and audible techniques for reenforcing their message. For example, as the advertisement goes on, those that aren’t speaking are casually eating their French fries with looks of enjoyment. Even though the viewer is looking at the speaker and not the one eating, it is in their peripheral vision which has been shown to receive a surprising amount of sensory input based on movement. Even still, if you pay close attention, whenever someone bites on a French fry, there is a clear loud crunch sound which is strong evidence that Ore-Ida has edited the advertisement to subtly emphasize the crunchiness of their French fries. Another audible technique is the use of music in the advertisement. During most of the advertisement there’s a quiet happy melody playing in the background. However, the melody only starts once the stranger enters the scene. The music lightens the mood of the scene and when it coincides with the stranger’s presence it reenforces the idea that the stranger’s advice may be trusted and that there are good things to come, foreshadowing the acceptance of the stranger’s advice.
Ore-Ida also makes use of the diction and tone the actors use when acting out the scene. When the stranger’s makes her suggestion to bribe the children with French fries, the one of the parents says “huh, she’s makes some really good points” with an intonation of respect. This leads the viewer to view the stranger with more credibility which eases the ability to trust her. The stranger also makes a strong attempt to relate back to the viewer by using the word “you” as she sympathizes and lists the viewers possible ethical woes with respect to giving children French fries, further establishing trust. The stranger finally concludes the advertisement by using the trust to make a direct assertion to “visit PotatoPay.com to view tips and tricks on how to start bribing your child today”. In addition, throughout the advertisement, the stranger directly speaks of “bribing” the children, which when taken literally is horrible, but it is obvious to the viewer that it is humour. This humour softens the reception of such a crude suggestion which, in reality, is essentially bribery.
Ore-Ida was strategic when designing this advertisement and they executed well on their design. They made good use of visual, audible, and languages techniques to help convey the message that viewers should buy their French fries. They were able to allude to real life problems like getting kids to eat their vegetables, and successfully marketed the suggestion to give kids French fries as a win-win solution for everyone. After watching this advertisement, the only feeling we’re left with is to go buy some French fries!
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