14 September 2006

Pauline Hanson endorses the Donut King brand... Please explain?!

My lecture on "leveraging secondary brand assoc- iations" (by linking a brand to an entity like a celebrity, a country of origin, another brand, etc.) was still fresh in my mind the other night as I relaxed in front of the TV. Totally without warning, former One Nation leader and ex-con Pauline Hanson - one of the most divisive figures in recent Australian cultural history - appeared in the middle of an ad for Donut King, asking me something along the lines of "What do you feel like?".

Well, I'm happy to say that I felt like a fool - what would my students think? What would they ask me in next week's class if they'd seen this bizarre campaign? Surely all that stuff I'd been saying about marketers choosing celebrity endorsers for the beneficial secondary associations they bring to the brand must be complete rubbish?!

At first, I thought that I would have to explain it away as just another clearly bad choice - like (pictured) Ian Thorpe's THORPEDO tuna steaks or Greg Norman's pasta source (well Paul Newman did it... Greg Norman is near enough, isn't he?). And there are plenty of examples of using a celebrity - especially a notorious one like Mark "Chopper" Read - simply to get attention.

But then I started to wonder...

What if Donut King actually does want to tap into the network of brand associations that we hold (or some of us hold) about Pauline Hanson? Which of those associations could they possibly regard as potentially beneficial to the Donut King brand?

At a rational, brand performance level, there's nothing to go on - Pauline is vaguely known as a former fish and chip shop owner, but not a renowned expert on donuts whose endorsement would matter to us: Wow, she really knows donuts, so for her to put her name to those Donut Kings really means something! No, I think not. Homer Simpson comes to mind more readily (and would probably be a better electoral bet than Pauline these days, too).

It can't be about user imagery, surely? For how many Australians does Pauline Hanson have aspirational appeal? She's not exactly renowned for her good taste, so I consider it doubtful that there's anyone who would feel better eating a Donut King donut now that they know it's Pauline's choice.

So it must be more to do with linking to emotions, attitudes and perhaps even values that we associate with Pauline Hanson... and that, of course, is very dangerous territory. Perhaps it's an attempt to position the gaudy pink donut - iced with "hundreds and thousands" - firmly in the 1950s version of Australian cultural life that Ms Hanson seems to favour, alongside fairy bread at a kids' party, an Iced Vo-Vo biscuit, Bob Menzies in Canberra and the "yellow peril" still a few thousand miles to the north. Multiculturalism? Why, we've got all the diversity you'll ever need right here at the donut counter!

(By the way, donuts and multiculturalism are not mutually exclusive - I often enjoy an Italian style bomboloni with apricot jam filling from Caffe di Lusso in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn.)

Another thought: maybe it's about protecting Australian interests against foreign takeovers of our markets. With business travellers still queuing to buy boxes of Krispy Kreme doughnuts at Sydney Airport, Melbourne's first KK store located at Fountain Gate (right in "Kath & Kim" territory), and KK's fund-raising program earning them tremendous kudos with community organisations, maybe Donut King is trying to send out a subtle call to patriotism (or xenophobia) by linking themselves to such a prominent anti-immigration, "White Australia" campaigner?

Or maybe I'm missing something more obvious. Perhaps, as a prominent Royalist, it's logical that Ms Hanson would support anything with "King" in the title: stand by for Pauline as spokesmodel for Burger King or King Oscar Sardines.

Better still, there's one product endorsement opportunity that would neatly combine her racist attitudes with support for royalty and good old fashioned Australian values: White King bleach.


Anonymous said...

No. I think it's merely a case of complete, unabashed idiocy of the highest order. The thinking would've gone something along the lines of 'Hey. Let's get Pauline Hanson' then someone else saying 'Okay'.

What do I feel like? I feel like a racist right wing lunatic selling me donuts in perhaps the most jaw-droppingly idiotic display of advertising incompetence I've ever seen in my life.

Anonymous said...

Haha, The user who posted the comment, claiming that the above-mentioned Donut-King advertisement is,

"the most jaw-droppingly idiotic display of advertising incompetence"

clearly lacks any knowledge of marketing whatsoever.

The very fact that we are reading an lengthy article on the internet about the advertisement, the fact that typing "Donut King" and "Pauline" into YouTube will allow you to view the advertisement online, and the very fact that viewers such as "Anonymous" above feel so personally affronted after watching the advertisement, that they need to vent online - all adds up to one thing - marketing genius.

This has to be one of the most talked about Australian television commercials in a long time. In fact, a quick Google for "Donut King" and "Pauline Hanson", reveals it's pretty much earned itself cult status!

So why would they chose Pauline Hanson to appear for a split second in a Donut King add? Why the hell not!? They know it's going cause a reaction - negative or positive, it doesn't matter, it gets people talking about Donut King.

Of course Donut King know about reactionary marketing and once the commercial had made the necessary reactions they promptly pulled the plug on the commercial. I don't know exactly how long the add played for, but I know it wasn't long. We're still talking about it though. I can't think of another Donut King commerical that I 've even mentioned once, let alone mustering up this kind of debate.

Read: Success!

Now go buy some donuts already.