Orchids and Onions: Clover’s ad is cheesy, but to the point

And Momentum, no matter how good your damage control eventually was, you get the Ford Kuga Memorial Reputation Management Onion.

Initially, when I saw the dancing cows, I started to flip the channel. After all – dancing cows in an ad? Simplistic, cheesy (ha ha) and exaggerated acting … all the hallmarks of bad advertising.

And yet …

One of the ladies about to sit and have tea is explaining that she can’t have milk, sorry, but she suffers from lactose intolerance. Cue a brown-and-white cow hoof holding a pack of Clover’s No-Lac, lactose-free milk. And then the cows’ dancing chorus.

It was the silliness and absurdity of the scene, though, which made the Clover point that, when you use No-Lac instead of ordinary milk, you can “enjoy dairy again”.

And that was a great marketing point for those unfortunates who do suffer from this condition. I was not aware, up until those cows danced into my life, that there was such a product and even though I’m not the target market and the ad will never win classic status, it did its job very effectively.

So, an Orchid to Clover.

Everybody this week has been talking about Momentum’s lesson in “How not to win friends and influence customers”.

There is a theory out there that the marketing and PR people within the company and its advisors would have been over-ruled by the bean counters and the “we are correct, legally” brigade within the company.

Those late number crunchers made the call not to pay out the family of Durban man Nathan Ganas, who was gunned down in his driveway trying to protect his wife from hijackers.

The reason for the policy payout rejection: he didn’t declare that he had high blood sugar when he applied for life insurance with Momentum.

Technically, the company may have been correct, although the bulldog way they pushed their point – after clearly setting out, after the death, to search for some reason not to pay out – put a torpedo below the brand waterline.

For a while, it looked as though the hard-arsed execs were prepared to go down with the ship, uncaring that many were cancelling their policies and many more not even considering Momentum for their insurance needs.

The comparatively small amount Momentum was fighting over – R2.4 million – was undoubtedly less than the bonuses paid to those quibbling big boys and way less than the damage done to the brand’s reputation.

Finally, someone saw sense – or maybe the penny dropped about the thing called “reputation management”.

And, you have to admit that the company then went further than many expected it would.

Apart from honouring the Ganas payout, Momentum said it would pay out on all policies where death had been due to violent crime, no matter what the health condition of the policy holder was or whether there was full disclosure.

However, it will still take a long time for people to trust the brand that, despite its promises that its policyholders are its top priority, demonstrated the exact opposite.

And Momentum, no matter how good its damage control eventually was, deserves no praise for doing the right thing – because it was forced to do so.

So, Momentum, you get the Ford Kuga Memorial Reputation Management Onion.

  • Allan McNamara writes: With regards to the Orchid you awarded for the agency’s reaction regarding the backlash to the re-design of the Schweppes Tonic and Soda waters, I would agree it was merited. However I believe Coca Cola should receive an Onion for the re-design of their Coca Cola Range. The labels are so similar it is hard to see the difference in the three variants.
  • Any thoughts on advertising? Drop me a line at brendans@citizen.co.za

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