Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Wonder, Bread


Dear Solitary Reader:

While grocery shopping with my wife on the weekend we were in the bakery section and something caught my eye: yet another incarnation of WonderBread. This particular packaging was a light blue, maybe a teal? and it was WonderBread <insert healthy sounding adjective here>.

I was quite surprised because it seemed like just last week WonderBread had come out with a dark blue packaged WonderBread <insert different healthy adjective here> and the week before that they came out with a green packaged WonderBread <yet another healthy adjective>. I was confused. No shock to those who know me I’m sure, but this time I was confused about something specific.
I thought about it, much longer than the situation merited I’m sure, and it seems to me one of two things must have has happened at WonderBread HQ.
Scenario A
Picture, if you will, a world in which the CEO of WonderBread has just entered his mid-to-late 40s and is hitting his mid-life crisis.

Now maybe WonderCEO likes his wife still (it could happen, after 10 years I still like my wife) so he doesn’t wanna leave her for a young blonde; and maybe WonderCEO is both environmentally and safety conscious and doesn’t want to get the latest gas guzzling machine. So what’s a 40-Something CEO with a mid-life crisis and a conscience supposed to do?
You guessed it: play with the branding. And I’m not talking about your old riding the range, herd’em up, move’em out Circle Square Double Bar T Range sort of branding. We’re talking about product branding. WonderCEO probably thinks that he can play with the color of the packaging for WonderBread as much as he wants because really the important symbol of WonderBread is the polka dot.
To a certain extent WonderCEO is correct; the polka dot is important (you know, I never thought I’d ever write that) but Mr. CEO when you dilute your WonderBread Name with a plethora of adjectives you open yourself up to ridicule from people like me: the easily amused and always confused.
Now as WonderCEO has all the power in this situation and I have no power in this situation (other than being the customer, and always being right (are we still doing that?) so PICK A NAME AND SETTLE DOWN WONDERBREAD!) I’m just going to have to sit back and enjoy the whacky adjective ride. 
Scenario B
We live in tumultuous times. Egypt, Jordan, Cambodia, Myanmar and a bunch of other places are clear indicators people all over the world are feeling restless. I believe a similar thing must have happened at the marketing department of WonderBread.
Through ways best left undisclosed I’ve managed to get my hands on this non-existent, fictitious email from the head of the Marketing Department at WonderBread:
From: Your Boss and True
Subject: The Time is NOW
The day of our uprising is here. Now we will THROW OFF the shackles of the FINANCE department and no more be bound by THEY’RE RULEZ.
They have made chains of money and sought to put these chains on our creativity, chains on our freedom, chains on our IDEAS. We, we happy few, we know you cannot put chains on IDEAS! (Except when I have to chain up my dog, whose name is IDEAS, when I’m cleaning his dog house, if I don’t, he runs away and I haven’t had a chance to Bob Barker him yet) No more will we suffer the indignity of HAVING TO USE WHITE ALL THE TIME.
Join me in this cause glorious MARKETING LACKEYS and we will show the World how we put the WONDER IN WONDERBREAD!
Glorious Leader of the WONDEROUS Revolution
PS It has been brought to my attention that some of you are taking breaks longer than the allotted 15 minutes; please remember that we try to keep a balance between creative freedom and schedule. It’s rude to make someone else wait for you to come back from your break so that they can take theirs.
This letter, I repeat, is highly confidential. It is, in fact, so confidential that no one knows it exists – almost as if it never happened. Because it didn’t.
I can only imagine what happened from there. The marketing department have obviously managed to suborn the distribution chain and are getting their whacky WonderBread products out on the market while the CEO of the company is locked in his office trying to text for help on the Blackberry they gave him that he has yet to figure out.
Way back in the day when I was taking my MBA, specializing in marketing, we learned the importance of branding. If you’ve got a good brand name stick with it – don’t change it. Sure, if you sell bread, you might feel the only way to update your product and freshen it up is to change the packaging and play with the name; but really, its bread.
Mankind has been breaking bread for a lot longer than the polka dot has been around, so do what other companies do – don’t change the product, change the slogan.

One thing I know, until WonderBread resolves its identity crisis I think I’m going to go back to the grocery store’s House Bread, at least it knows what it is: bread.

Here’s a sneak peak at the next packaging idea from the peeps at WonderBread:


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