Thursday, July 14, 2022

"Together is Timeless"


     A writer trusts his gut. She listens to her in-the-moment instinct. Use this word but not that one. Jump at that topic while avoiding another. You need a sense of what fits, what doesn't, what's right, what wrong.
     So I'm sitting in the car on Wabash Avenue, just north of Cermak Road, waiting for my younger son to come down so we can go to dinner in Chinatown. And I look across the street and see this billboard for Fannie May candies. And think, "Bleh." Then take a picture to document the marvel, to make sure I'm not hallucinating. To check that this isn't some errant, one-off billboard test.
     It isn't. A big branding campaign, launched last Christmas.
     "Together is Timeless."
     Tell me I'm wrong. Tell me I'm overreacting by even remarking upon its meh-ness. I'm not their target audience. To me, Fannie May candy is barely worth eating, like Hershey's milk chocolate. A palpable substitute for actual candy if nothing better is at hand. A form of pica, only using confectionary instead of plaster of paris.
     I tried to think of how to illustrate its wrongness, and the first phrase I thought of is Sartre's "Hell is other people." The problem must be the word "timeless." It's not an adjective that evokes anything, especially not chocolate. The slogan is close in meaning to "Together is an Eternity," which doesn't sound like a situation you want to enter willingly. "Timeless" is such a tired bit of boosterism. "This heirloom plate from the Franklin Mint will become a timeless treasure your family will cherish for generations..."
     I wondered what Fannie May, based in Chicago, thought it was doing, and am glad that Candy & Snack Today did the heavy lifting for me, reaching out to Ferraro Group's Fannie May Confection Brands Inc.
     “Together Is Timeless showcases how Fannie May takes classic ingredients like caramel, pecans, grahams, marshmallows and chocolate, and brings them together to create something greater than the sum of their parts. Just like the memories that are made while celebrating with loved ones,” Kari Fisch, senior brand manager at Fannie May told the publication. “We are very excited to unveil our new campaign and look forward to becoming a staple of family celebrations nationwide for decades to come.”
     They pay people for that. (And what's a "graham"? Perhaps the word you use when you can't call an ingredient a "graham cracker" for legal reasons. Did you ever in your life say, "I'd like a graham"? Me neither). 
     We are in such a blizzard of communication, a 24-hour wordstorm as big as the Crab Nebula. So if you are going to coin a phrase, buy billboards, you jolly well...
     Enough. Anyone who gets it understood at first glance, and if they haven't, they never will.
     I'd be reluctant to jump on somebody's brain child — I'm tempted to go into LinkedIn and find someone claiming "Together is Timeless" on their resume — except that not caring is how these things are flung at the public in the first place. Nobody is going to cry into their pillow over this.
     I try not to criticize a headline without coming up with a better one and that holds true for commercial catchphrases. A superior slogan can be concocted in the time it takes me to type the words. "Together is Timeless." Hmmm... Drop the "Timeless" as pejorative, keep "Together" as something that sounds halfway appealing. Remembering this is candy. How about "Sweeter Together?" Maybe they tried that and "sweet" didn't test well: implies calories. "Savor Together," with an echo of "Safer Together" which is on everybody's mind nowadays. Or "Choose Together" since Fannie May are famous for their big assortments where you pick the ones you can best stomach. No, abortion rights killed off the concept of choice, at least for timorous marketers. 
     I'd stick with my first idea, "Sweeter Together." It's candy. It's supposed to be a little sweet or, in the case of Fannie May, way too sweet. If you're going to take Vienna, take Vienna. If you're a candy company, be sweet, or "Together is Sweetness."




14 comments:

  1. I won’t attempt to defend the billboard, but I’m not afraid to state that I like Fannie May Candy. “Way too sweet” is in the eye (mouth?) of the beholder.

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  2. Yes terrible ad . But the candy is mostly pretty good. Except for the creams. Now Stovers assortments are awful throughout the box.
    I'll even go into a Fannie May store for a dark chocolate cherry. Maybe as a man of a certain age I am their target.

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  3. the buttercreams are my favorite

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  4. Yes, your sweet together slogan would be better. Now Russell Stover, no thanks.

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  5. Yeah, that's not very good. I don't think I'd have found it noteworthy, though. It's certainly not in the same league as the all-time stupidest, Charmin's "Enjoy the Go!", IMO...

    You folks have much more refined palates when it comes to candy than I do, that's for sure. Probably when it comes to everything else, too!

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  6. There are no Fannie May outlets in Cleveland, and only a handful in the suburbs. Maybe that's why my wife, a lifelong Northeast Ohio resident, has never heard of the brand. She shrugged when I mentioned the name. But their candy is actually made here. Located about an hour away from Cleveland, the Fannie May factory in North Canton is where Harry London Chocolates are produced. They even have factory tours.

    My mother was born and raised in Chicago. She lived there for five decades and loved Fannie May candies. I remember going to the stores...and I always knew what to buy her for her birthday. But I wouldn't eat them. There are far better brands of candy available.

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  7. Thank you for writing this. I get grief all the time from others for pointing out all the reckless, tasteless and brainless word choices that pollute our cultural landscape in general, but seem particularly prevalent in the world of advertising. In addition to all of the spot on points that you make, there’s also the matter of the grammatical stupidity; if they insist upon this particular slogan, shouldn’t it be “TogetherNESS is timeless”?
    You’re also right about the quality of the product. I’ve had numerous sugar addicts lecture me about the supposed greatness of the Fannie May brand, but if you ask me, Russell Stover tastes better for about half the price.

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  8. Could have been a grandchild who suggested the slogan and they couldn't refuse it. The add accomplished the purpose of attracting attention. The quality of the product now has to take over.
    Maybe the next ad will read, "Our slogan is bad but our candies are GREAT!"

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  9. One wonders why they bothered. The billboard would have done its job without it. Good slogans are so prominent in the advertising that they come to represent a product -- "Diamonds are Forever," "Be All You Can Be," "Fly the friendly Skies."
    In this instance, "Fannie May" in bold type and the picture are all that's needed to get viewers salivating.
    Tom

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  10. My favorite ad slogan of all time: "If cows could, they'd give Milnot." As for candy, my favorite chocolate is Cadbury Fuit & Nut Bar. Followed by the Hershey bar. Still tastes great to this geezer.

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    Replies
    1. My favorite slogan is the old 7 Up tag line: "You like it. It likes you."

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    2. Yes. Old indeed. Heard it in early Fifties radio spots. I still have a green-white-and-orange 7up bottle from that decade, made in the Chicago plant. The logo has the blonde in the one-piece swimsuit, with white bubbles rising from her head. On the back, above the slogan, a line reads: "Flavor derived from lemon and lime oils." Had an even older bottle with the same slogan, probably late Forties, until a kitty knocked it off the shelf.

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    3. "Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't." Although I guess I always felt like a nut, because while I bought more than a few Almond Joys, I don't think I ever got a Mounds. (Halloween hauls excepted!)

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