Stuart Elliot on “Girthy”

Stuart Elliot’s advertising newsletter today: (doncha just love that agency-speak crap “consumers told us that” that someone manages to be buck-passing, mealy-mouthed, and faux-user-centered at the same time)

A Reader Asks: I was surprised at the new “Be frank” television and radio spots for Ball Park Grill Master hot dogs. The ads feature a large man grilling his meatier, “girthier” Ball Park Grill Master franks. I understand wanting to appear edgy and appealing to the masculine grilling audience. The term “girthy,” which the man almost growls several times, is one that I tend to see in my spam e-mails concerning male “enlargement.”

While my friends and co-workers are now very familiar with the brand and name, is it due more to laughter and the questioning of why a hot dog would be advertised as “girthy”?

Stuart Elliott: The “Be frank” campaign is the first work from the Ball Park brand’s new agency, the Playa del Rey, Calif., office of TBWA/Chiat/Day, part of the TBWA Worldwide division of the Omnicom Group. The campaign, intended to support the introduction of the Grill Master product, is centered on a character described by Julie Ketay, a spokeswoman at the Ball Park parent, the Sara Lee Corporation in Chicago, as “a straight-talking, all-American hot dog enthusiast named Frank.”

“Our consumer research told us that adult hot-dog lovers were looking for a hearty frank that appealed to their grown-up taste buds,” she adds, “and that’s what Ball Park has delivered.”

“Our adult consumers said they wanted a larger frank that wasn’t overwhelmed by the bun, yet still had plenty of room for their condiments of choice,” Ms. Ketay says. “In fact, consumers told us they were looking for more girth in their hot dog.”

“Frank, as his name suggests, is a ‘tell it like it is’ kind of guy,” she adds, “and in the ‘Girthy’ commercial he’s sharing with hot-dog lovers everywhere that the Ball Park Grill Master frank is not a kid’s hot dog. Rather, it’s made for real-meat lovers like Frank.”

“It’s ‘girthy,'” Ms. Ketay says, “and according to Frank, ‘Girthy is good.'”

“The ad campaign tested quite well with our target consumers, adults who enjoy eating meat and meat products, like eating socially with friends and, in particular, enjoy grilling,” she adds. “Consumers liked Frank’s direct nature, his candidness, his humor and his passion. So far, we have not received feedback similar to your reader. Quite frankly, it was a first for us.”

Pun of course intended.


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