Analysis of the Corn Refiner's Commercial "Brothers"
Changing the Conversation about High Fructose Corn Syrup?
The Corn Refiners Association is trying to change the public’s opinion about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) with a new ad campaign. According to the Corn Refiner’s website, two-thirds of consumers are aware of HFCS, but most do not understand the similarities and differences between HFCS and table sugar (Campaign at a Glance).
Therefore, the goal of the campaign is to share the facts about the important role HFCS plays in America’s foods and beverages (“Campaign at a Glance”). The association is mainly targeting consumers above the age of twenty-five with a main focus on moms.
They currently have three commercials on circuit. Each ad is about thirty seconds long. I chose to focus on their television commercial entitled “Brothers.” This commercial tries to convince the viewer that high fructose corn syrup is not as unhealthy as they may think.
The commercial’s setting is in a kitchen. The younger brother is sitting at the kitchen table eating a bowl of cereal. There is a cereal box somewhat out of focus next to him on the table. This lets the viewer know that the brand of cereal does not particularly matter because the main focus is on the product being discussed.
The older brother comes into the shot and hits his younger brother on the shoulder. This action quickly catches the viewer’s attention because it is sudden and unexpected. The older brother then sits down at the kitchen table. Dialogue is exchanged:
Older Brother: “Once again you’re demonstrating your inferior intellect. That cereal has high fructose corn syrup in it.”
Younger Brother: “So?”
Older Brother: “So, even a doofus like you must’ve heard what they say about it.”
Younger Brother: “What?”
Older Brother: “...”
Younger brother: “That it’s made from corn and nutritionally the same as sugar. And it’s just fine in moderation.”
Older Brother: “Whatever.”
The older brother then takes the younger brother’s bowl of cereal and begins eating it.
All throughout the commercial cheery background music is heard. The music plays an important role in this ad; it gives the viewer the impression that what is occurring in the commercial should be interpreted as up beat and happy.
Towards the end of the ad, while the music is still playing, a voice-over of a woman chimes in. She says, “Get the facts. You’re in for a sweet surprise.” Then the Corn Refiners Association website address is displayed at the bottom of the ad.
The voice-over encourages the viewer to go and visit the Corn Refiners’ website. The commercial suggests to the viewer that the website presents positive facts and information about high fructose corn syrup that the viewer should know about.
The Corn Refiners Association’s research indicates that once they learn the facts, many consumers have a more favorable opinion of this versatile sweetener made from corn (Campaign at a Glance).
Appealing to a Specific Audience
Moreover, the two brother’s discussion at the kitchen table gives an impression to the viewer that the average Joe can learn the facts about HFCS for himself if he visits the website. The commercial would have a different affect if it showed two scientists in a lab setting having the same discussion.
If the viewer saw two scientists on the screen they might get intimidated and chose not to visit the Corn Refiners’ website. The viewer may fear that they will not understand the scientific data or terminology that would be presented on the website. Nor would a black screen with white text have the same affect on the viewer.
The personal dialogue between two brothers makes it easier for the viewer to relate to the situation. Mothers in particular could relate to the familiar setting. Since the two brothers are having a conversation at a kitchen table, a mother’s interest would be peaked more so than if a child or teenager were exposed to the same ad. The advertiser knew this and intentionally set the commercial in that type of environment to appeal to a specific audience.
In the end, the Corn Refiners Association’s main objective with this commercial was to change the public’s opinion about high fructose corn syrup. They tried their best to achieve that objective by presenting the product in a very positive light with a friendly conversation. Upbeat music adds to the cheery atmosphere along with the background setting.
The two brothers discussing the product at the kitchen table communicates the message in an easy to understand manner. The commercial mainly appeals to moms who are the ad’s target audience and informs them about the positives of high fructose corn syrup. With the hopes of persuading mothers to feel good about buying products that contain high fructose corn syrup.
- Campaign at a Glance. 20 Jun. 2008. The Corn Refiners Association.12 Nov. 2008. http://www.hfcsfacts.com/images/pdf/Campaign_At_A_Glance.pdf