Thursday, April 16, 2015

Save the Bros

The middle of February 2015 brought Organic Valley’s “Save the Bros” campaign to promote their newest product, Organic Fuel: High Protein Milk Shake.  This promotion was launched through their online platforms.  Organic Valley is a cooperative of organic farmers based out of La Farge, Wisconsin. OV took to humor and mainstream native tongue to create this campaign for organic fuel, obviously trying the new trendy strategy of marketing to genders and generations that are ample in the digital realm. Organic Valley’s target audience is “bros” or individuals who know a bro.  This was launched through a YouTube video posted on every social media platform that OV utilizes.  With that, the Internet brings an uncountable amount of viewers.  Along with the YouTube video is a personal website strictly for “saving the bros”. is a multiparty website, branched from  Instead of ‘blowing it up from the outside’ by circulating facts and statistics about why organic fuel is better than the average protein (because who said raw facts aren’t convincing?), well, raw facts are not convincing, they are boring.  So, Organic Valley broadcasts these claims by doing the exact opposite—trying to push organic fuel to fit into mainstream culture like a high school student tries to fit into the most popular clique, it just does not work that way.  The purpose of this campaign is to promote organic fuel using selective emphasis to frame how the intended audience will assess the product.  The original YouTube video that launched the campaign is what plain style concepts about marketing strategies addressed in this paper will be referring to. The transcribed YouTube video is below:

            Bros are pretty amazing.  They are innovators. Patriots. They consume ⅔ of our   nations “lite” beer and 100% of our axe body spray.  But our bros are in serious       danger.  Every day, millions drink protein shakes in order to get jacked, yoked, and totally swoll.  But most bros are unaware of the scary chemicals and artificial        ingredients inside these shakes. If bros keep pounding this stuff at this rate, we could face a total bro colony collapse. Without bros, who would get the club crunk? Who would make comments about your physique that aren’t appropriate? (But still appreciated). Who would remind us to go big or to go home? I forget that sh** daily.  What would happen to Las Vegas? Or the beaches of New Jersey? Who is going to make it rain? At Organic Valley we have a plan to save the bros.  It is called Organic Fuel. It is a recovery shake with 26 grams of the protein that bros love, but none of the synthetic junk.  Bros don’t need to know that it is organic, or made with real milk from pasture-raised cows...just tell a bro it has a ton of protein and he will pound the sh** out of it.  With your help, this   could be the first step towards bros making other healthier life choices.  With our buy one, bro one program, you can buy an organic fuel for yourself and share one with a bro...before it’s too late.  Together, with your help, we can save them.  We must save them. We can save the bros. TEXT**Please share this with a bro you know**END TEXT.

The audience OV is aiming to reach is “bros”, whether they are organic consumers or not.  This is a tremendously large audience.  We also have to take into account that this promotion was launched online—a countless community.  The audience is important when critiquing this article because of how Organic Valley frames their message.  OV is trying to reach an audience that is implied as incompetent gym rats.  By OV creating a campaign to save bros from themselves using gendered marketing strategies and plain style language, they are engaging in a marketing trend on the rise.  Advertisements are thrown at us every day in every way, shape, and form.  So, marketing teams are using mainstream trends to drive their potential marketing strategies.  Although that may or may not be an effective way to advertise, it is more often than not, offensive.  Words lead to action, especially in reference to advertisements.  By OV using plain language and marketing via World Wide Web, what does this say about our society today?  What I want to argue is the bigger problem of advertising in a digital age.  With each competitor trying to one-up the next, advertising via the World Wide Web has become a free for all.  What happened to understanding that words lead to action?  If an advertisement tries to reach its audience by using dumbed down, offensive language that is not only distasteful in simplicity, but word use as well, it becomes embedded in our societies speech codes.  Issues of gendered language within the save the bros campaign is not progressing gender equality within our communications.

Organic Valley has framed how their audience will perceive organic fuel.  Organic Valley is putting a selective emphasis on what they want their audience to believe.  OV wants to persuade the audience that organic fuel is not another protein drink, it is the only protein drink that can #savethebros from themselves (excessive consumption of chemicals and artificial ingredients).  On a positive note, OV may or may not have gained an audience that they were not as established with.  To many people, organics is a very confusing industry.  Therefore, on the negative side, OV portrays the organic industry in this promotion as being for those who have a greater knowledge of the realm of organics.  OV dumbs down organic fuel’s qualities by saying it is full of protein, obviously better for you because it is organic (what does that really mean?) and that bros do not really need to know ‘why’ it is good for them (because all they care about is the amount of protein they can consumer, right?).  The intent of humor is obvious and even though OV’s target market is a bro, some of the marketing strategies could offend bros or people who lift or care about her or his health in general.  Who said bros do not eat organic?  Who said all very built men are bros?  The stereotypes play a large role.  However, the trend to market to these stereotypes in our digital age is so very harmful.   

This video blends plain style and creative style to form an advertising campaign by using oversimplification, resulting in dumbed down and gender biased language that it is potentially offensive.  With a grade level of 5 from an online readability calculator, Organic Valley uses oversimplification and repetition in this advertisement.  These two plain style strategies are shown in this quote:

If bros keep pounding this stuff at this rate, we could face a total bro colony collapse. Without bros, who would get the club crunk? Who would make comments about your physique that aren’t appropriate? (But still appreciated). Who would remind us to go big or to go home? I forget that sh** daily.  What would happen to Las Vegas? Or the beaches of New Jersey? Who is going to make it rain?

Keeping in mind that Organic Valley went to these extreme lengths to try and create a new stigma for the “organic” name. This video dumbs down the important qualities of organic products used in the ad, for example, pasture-raised cows and harmful chemicals.  The qualities of organic products should not be taken lightly.  It is not an easy feat to obtain the organic label on a product.  Also, with the organic/local food movements in our society today and new views on health, this promotion is backpedaling its efforts.  Along with that, “Bros don’t need to know that it is organic, or made with real milk from pasture-raised cows...just tell a bro it has a ton of protein and he will pound the sh** out of it.” Making organic attributes seem confusing and not understandable gives the brand a pretentious vibe.  Dumbing down organic language I deem offensive to organic consumers and non-organic consumers, and we can’t forget, the bros.

With that, this video sheds light on a major gender bias among fitness enthusiasts.  This video makes me believe that Organic Valley believes that “bros” are the largest audience for protein consumption and exercise enthusiasts.  Not only do fitness enthusiasts need protein, so does every living human.  Do I have to be a “bro” to be interested in my protein levels?  Can a woman even be a “bro”?  OV has images of men and women on; however, by using the chosen language revolved around “bros”, all chances of equality are out the window.  Language is powerful.  I did a little research myself and I could not find one definition where the word ‘woman’ was used to describe a bro.  A woman in the video reinforces the gender bias, “Who would make comments about your physique that aren’t appropriate? (But still appreciated).”  This offensive comment suggests that women like catcalls and need the man’s approval of her body. 

The video is also voiced over by a woman.  A woman trying to persuade me to save the bros. “Together, with your help, we can save them.  We must save them.”  Is this supposed to appeal to women to buy this for the men in their life?  Why aren’t the bros be concerned for the bros?  This reinforces the issues of gendering, again.  For example, men are not showcased as the main voice for women’s heart health on or other “her” campaigns, why would women be a target audience for saving the bros?  With respect, that is not to say that women should not care about men’s health or vice versa.  Rather, the promotional material should not use gendered language, period.  By Organic Valley joking about saving bros from “excessive consumption of chemicals and artificial ingredients” they are belittling the actual problem of chemicals, pesticides, artificial ingredients, etc. being in most foods that people are consuming in America.  Protein is on this list, but by dumbing down and saying, “Bros don’t need to know that it is organic, or made with real milk from pasture-raised cows…” Organic Valley is making these issues undesirable to the mainstream.

Through oversimplification, active voice, short sentences, and exemplum, Organic Valley created the dumbed down and offensive campaign for Organic Fuel.  The blending of plain and creative styles created a humor-based advertising campaign.  It is to be taken lightly—to shed a new light on the organic name and therefore industry.  With that, Organic Valley took organic fuel, paired it with mainstream native tongue, and framed a reason for ‘bros’ (individuals who arguably do not believe in organic products) to convince them that organic products will still get them #swoll through the use of plain style strategies.  I have argued that these plain style strategies are too plain and have resulted in a campaign that is distasteful.  OV is not the only culprit.  Plain style strategies being too plain, just like official style strategies being too official, ironically make the language unclear.  The save the bros campaign is using a new marketing trend that has been on the rise—gendered marketing and plain style strategies.  Using mainstream trends to drive potential marketing promotions is great, gendering and putting people into a box is not.  We must think of the bigger picture and how our words and actions shape our world. 

Heidi C.

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