As is probably the case with many who are reading this, Sunday mornings are accompanied by reading the Sunday paper. My wife and I particularly enjoy what we call "the ad slicks." Okay, it's mainly my wife who likes them all (I tend to focus on the electronics and office supply slicks). And so, it was no surprise that it was she who spotted this and brought it to my attention.
Zatarain's is a company that makes New Orleans rice and pasta mixes. Their icon is a silhouetted New Orleans clarinet player, their slogan "A New Orleans Tradition Since 1889." The idea is, of course, to bring to mind the wonderful food associated with this culinary city--gumbo, jambalya, crawfish, etc. These days, in light of recent events, you think of something much different than a crawfish boil when you think of New Orleans. You think of nature's distructive power, of human suffering amidst what is at best a logistical nightmare and at worst a red-tape induced bungle.
So, what do you do if you are Zatarain's? Well, being a conservative marketer, I would have pulled all my campaign plans for now, until all the negative associations with New Orleans had disappeared and any hint of me using the city as a marketing ploy had passed.
And, what did my wife find in the paper today? A coupon slick for 50-cents off any two of their mixes (or, if 35-cents off of any one box of their Ready-to-Serve dishes). To me, that would be bad enough. But what gets even more play on the layout, but a picture of some Mardi Gras celebrant (or. . .is it one of those large parade float giant heads? I can't quite be sure. Check it out here) and a information on how I can win a trip for 2 to Mardi Gras! It's the Jazzmatazz Sweepstakes, everybody!
Now, granted, print ads are notoriously difficult to retract once they go into production. But, come one! With everyone making life altering adjustments these days to help out in whatever way we can--I would hope that Zatarain's, their ad agency, and/or the printer could have gone the extra mile to make some sort of concession.
In defense of Zatarain's--whose marketing hands may have been tied by any of the players here (agency, printer, papers, etc.)--they have made all the right language appear on their website. Still, it's hard to forget that in order to get to the website, I had to be exposed to a print ad that seemed so inappropriate that it made my jaw drop.