Sara Lee’s New Ad Campaign…You’re Doing It Wrong [OPINION]

“Life’s Not Perfect…But Your Deli Meat Can Be.” That’s the high [read “stoned”] concept behind Sara Lee Deli’s new social media and video ad campaign, aimed to hock their pre-sliced and slice-to-order deli meats this Fall season.

Now if the campaign was “Life’s Not Perfect… And We’re Going To Use That Saying To Condone Our Horribly Mediocre Marketing Ideas” they may have been on to something.

So, what’s the result of the initiative? One of the most uninspired and cringe-inducing excuses for a social campaign I’ve ever come across. We live in an era where most Internet users are bombarded with haphazard Internet ad campaigns all the time. Out of every five campaigns we hear about (in the food industry), one is spectacular, one  is atrocious, and the other three are usually so lackluster we barely acknowledge it as readable material.

Not sure what 19th-century focus group the marketing team at Sara Lee ran this campaign by, but we assure you no laughs were had, and any sort of viral success to be achieved through the initiative will be had at the expense of those criticizing it over its unintended sterility.

According to the company’s press release, the campaign “aims to connect with women by humorously acknowledging life’s less than perfect moments via a new video series —

It may be possible that we just missed the connection because we aren’t women, the intended target of these videos.

Each video in the series (three have been released thus far) is roughly around a minute-long, but with no punch line or discernible reason to watch, they feel like watching hour long movie sex scenes while sitting next to your parents. We’re going throw Sara Lee a bone. The bar for viral videos is set pretty high. I mean what does it take to get over a million views on YouTube? Oh really… a baby laughing in slow-motion filmed on a camera won in a Cheerios box?

…bone retracted.

Have none of the 33,000+ employees at the Sara Lee Corporation seen a video on YouTube? [see:]

Let’s take a look at one of the videos before going any further. This one is titled, That Little Boy Still Has His Sandwich. That’s actually the title. I know you’re excited:

Are you hyped yet? At the time of this posting, the video has a whopping 27 views. A clear indication of how fast it has taken off since its upload date earlier this week.

What do people in our office have to say about these videos?

There’s so many bad things I want to say about these videos, but my brain can’t put them in order. — Tommy, Development Intern

I didn’t laugh at any of the videos. Not in the least bit. I’m not even a tough shot. — Elie Ayrouth, Publisher

It’s like telling the girl of your dreams about your shitty credit score over dinner: awkward, embarrassing, stupid and sure to yield no results. — Rudy Chaney, Lead Developer

OK, hold your horses you Foodbeast hatemongerers, not every brand has to put out a social media campaign that has explosions, or something funny, or something catchy, or something witty. It’s hard for a brand like Sara Lee to step that far out of the box; they have a long, decorated and respectful history to maintain.

Boring video intermission (if you get the point, skip this video):

You’re absolutely right. But Sara Lee has opened themselves up to criticism by assuming their own campaign was humorous. I’m a firm believer  that there are certain brands that should avoid the social/video media route, save your resources, accept some 3rd party consultation, and act/protect your brand accordingly.

There are plenty of other brands that do it right. For example, look at Miracle Whip’s campaign from earlier this year. That’s a brand that took a chance, created simple videos with a powerful message, asking consumers and celebrities alike whether or not they liked their product, and published an equal amount of both sides of the debate. For example, Pauly D hates Miracle Whip:

Where did the Sara Lee Deli campaign go wrong? A better question might be… WHY, GOD WHY? The videos say absolutely nothing. They’re actually produced decently well, which ultimately detracts from any sort of viral authenticity. Another issue is they didn’t take a stance on anything. The videos aren’t bad enough to be self-aware, self-deprecating and sure as hell don’t warrant sharing to our own coveted social media audiences.

No doubt we’ll continue to be consumers of Sara Lee products, and this campaign is in no way an indication of their years of quality product. But this campaign isn’t helping anyone. Actually, it’s helping future marketers, agencies and competitors learn what NOT to do.

With that, good luck with this campaign Sara Lee Deli. Here’s a link to your Facebook campaign so people can be their own judge, and until next time —



By Elie Ayrouth

Elie is a product of Orange County, CA. In early 2012, his dentist diagnosed him with 8 different cavities, three of which on the same tooth, as a result of his 23-year Sour Patch Kid addiction.

2 replies on “Sara Lee’s New Ad Campaign…You’re Doing It Wrong [OPINION]”

Who was the agency on this, and who was the production company?  And how much were the agency and the production company paid to produce these?  I’ll bet it was a hefty sum– and that’s the real crime here.

Some expensive agency came up with creative that didn’t work, wrote a script that was too long and too obvious, and art directed pedestrian locations, wardrobe and characters. 

Then the director and production company they hired (if it wasn’t an internal agency job done by interns and temp hires) didn’t step up the the plate and tell them this stuff sucked on location.  Didn’t they watch the ‘keeper’ takes on playback and realize that what they had sucked.  That soccer video could have been good if it was condensed down to about 15 seconds and shot from a different angle or two.  I could have re-worked the whole thing on location in 30 minutes and had a much better piece.

To me, these videos reek of:
1.)  Corporate purchasers who don’t know what they want or don’t care
2.)  Agency creatives who are too young to have real experience in quality motion picture production (lo-budget or otherwise, ‘guerrilla’ or otherwise)
3.)  Video crew(s) who were to meek to stand-up to the bosses on location and tell them the material was weak.
4.)  And, a director who wasn’t even skilled enough to keep his/her actors from ‘indicating.’

In the end, Sara Lee paid a ton of dough to a group of incompetents who let them down.  Not good.

-Chicago Producer/Director

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