For years, I have been convinced that I once heard an ad for a product whose tagline rang “You bet your sweet Aspercreme.” I only heard it once, but I loved it. I told my brothers about it, but the ad was so quickly updated with a new tagline, neither of them ever saw it, and believed I was making it up. Well:
It was real! I hadn’t thought about this particular campaign for years, until reading Spreadable Media, in which humor was discussed as a potential connector of audiences. Tapping into a shared sense of humor can endear one to the audience, but missing the mark can be disastrous (204).
To the correct audience, this tagline is gold. It’s funny, unexpected, and not only caught my attention but stayed with me. Unfortunately, the ad ran during daytime TV and the audience rejected it. Aspercreme quickly pulled the ad, keeping the original pitch of the tagline, but changing the words to “You bet if it’s Aspercreme.” The public outcry and subsequent retraction of the tagline made me assume the brand was harmed by the ads, but further research shows sales of Aspercreme increased 53% in the quarter the ad ran. Coincidence?
Today, the only evidence of this tagline’s existence comes courtesy of the collaborative culture of the internet, where others like me can seek it. The company clearly had the right idea, but the wrong audience. Had the ad aired in a different time-slot, would the tagline have required a change?