When it comes to cars and electronics, Koreans have shown great intelligence and understanding of the US market. But when it comes to pistachio nuts – well, their brand-new television commercial caused Advertising Age to wonder, in a September 17 subhead, "What were they thinking?"
One thing that's bizarre is why pistachios – which grow in Afghanistan, Egypt, Greece, India, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Sicily, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, ,Uzbekistan, and California – are being flogged by a company from Korea, of all places.
But that pales in comparison to the mega-bizarreness of Wonderful Pistachios' latest marketing effort. As Ad Age describes it:
Wonderful Pistachios has released an ad featuring Dennis Rodman. That alone is enough to make one question the judgment of the marketing team. But wait. It gets a lot, er, nuttier. Not only does it feature Dennis Rodman, it features Dennis Rodman and an actor portraying North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The 15-second spot opens with Dennis Rodman, green hair and all, and a lookalike of his new buddy, Kim Jong Un, sitting around a small white table with a bowl of pistachio nuts. Taking a nut from the bowl, Rodman says, "The secret to world peace is...pistachios." At that point we cut to a tight closeup of the Kim actor's hand pushing a red button, then back to the master scene as Rodman disappears in a miniature nuclear fireball. As "Kim" applauds, a voice-over says, "Dennis Rodman does it because he's nuts. Wonderful Pistachios. Get crackin'."
"We'd like to think that someone on the marketing team would have raised a hand to say, 'Uhhhh, guys, this might come off wrong,'" wrote Ad Age. "But nope, that didn't happen. They seem to have found the whole thing hilarious -- especially the part when Faux Kim Jong Un nukes Dennis Rodman."
Washington Post blogger Alexandra Petri was even more aghast, posting
I don’t really like pistachios, even under the best of circumstances, and I’m not sure why Wonderful Pistachios thinks associating them with all my least favorite public figures will increase sales...
Is there a point to all this?
Does this actually help sales? My idea of what would help sales is pretty much the opposite of this ad, so possibly an ad from Rodman saying, “I’m going to stay out of world politics. Have a pistachio!” But I guess they know something I don’t[.]
It's enough to make Wonderful Pistachios' introduction of gangnam style video to this year's Super Bowl advertising look like a model of sanity and lucidity by comparison.