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Are We Getting Too Sensitive: Do Brands Need to Rethink Using Global Campaigns?

22 Aug

Apple’s new TVC featuring their new exercise Apps on the iPhone 5s has offended some audiences because of the use of the song ‘Go You Chicken Fat, Go’. So does the creative over-shadow the message?

 

The story gets exciting when you look into the history of the song. Actually most things do don’t they? Marketers love to copy what has gone before them… tweak it slightly, and the slight alteration to the original idea can be very clever. The Apple ad uses The Youth Fitness Song aka as “Chicken Fat” song.

In 1962, the song was written and composed by Broadway composer (Robert) Meredith Wilson (The Music ManThe Unsinkable Molly Brown), and sung by actor/singer Robert Preston. It was part of President John F. Kennedy’s Council on Physical Fitness program to get schoolchildren to do more daily exercise. The song was distributed to American schools and played every morning for students to do calisthenics. Very similar to how Australia’s Federal government supplied milk to children in primary school between the 1950’s and the mid 70’s. Every morning about 9am, a small bottle of milk – 1/3 pint – would be delivered for each child. The milk would sit there (in the sun) until morning recess, when each child would get their very own (now warm) bottle of milk. I have horrible childhood milk memories and I did not drink milk as an adult unless the milk was freezing cold or flavoured. And I never drank the bottom bit.

Back to our story! The visuals in Apple’s TVC are motivating, and the use of the phone’s physical-fitness Apps are clear, but it tends to be overshadowed by the song, as I was thinking while watching the TVC, ‘what does this mean?’ Am I supposed to find this funny? Is Apple trying to motivate me or scare me? Then the tagline kicks in, which reads: “You’re more powerful than you think.” OK, but how does the chicken fit in?

The song could make American Baby Boomers’ nostalgic for a time when they were told to “Go, you chicken fat, go,” however, there is no point of reference for anyone else watching the ad. For the rest of the world, Apple appears to be telling its customers, possibly in a questionable manner, to get off the couch, and start exercising. However, the main message was the great new exercise Apps, but that was lost.

Classical conditioning has been used in a clever way by Apple, teaming the song with memories of exercising. Apart from Americans who may remember doing their morning callisthenics to this song, it is lost on all other global audiences. I wonder if like my primary school milk memories, these weren’t happy? Which begs the question, should music with such strong associations – both good and bad – be used in advertising campaigns? Much research has been conducted on the use of teaming music with advertising. Apple has been clever, but they should have considered only using this song for American audiences.

 

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