Good Isn’t

I saw this poster yesterday:

I have questions.

Why is the package closed and full of food when she’s clearly had to open it to make the meal?

Is Menyu a bit racist? Here in America we have a supermarket called Trader Joe’s, which recently suffered accusations of racism for the names of their ‘ethnic’ food ranges, ‘Trader Ming’s’ (Chinese), ‘Trader José’s’ (Mexican) and ‘Trader Giotto’s’ (Italian). They were actually going to change those names, but then decided not to, much to the delight of Fox News. When Fox news is on your side, maybe you should think again.

I’d never really considered it before, but ‘good’ is a bit of a limp word, isn’t it? It’s kind of like ‘nice’ or ‘pleasant’; positive, but blandly so. Maybe they like it that way, as they seem to want to spread the word around their work like a flavourless jam:

I think ‘Good’ must be some kind of platform for them.

Franki Goodwin, Chief Creative Officer at Saatchi & Saatchi, said:  “It was so exciting to get our hands on this amazing range and bring the food photography to life. It’s the start of a lot of GOOD we’re going to be doing in the coming months.”

So far, so blah. Sure, one person’s branding platform is another person’s reason to yawn, but this seems pretty similar to the ‘Food To Feel Good About’ positioning that Adam and Eve launched exactly a year ago (it’s still the endline). Maybe Saatchi and Saatchi think they’ve expanded it so that it can also be used to promote the benefits of a ‘midweek quickie’.

Talking of things it’s very close to, someone else wants to tell us about how their food is ‘good’:

I think this is a recent one, so Sainsbury’s are taking the unusual step of adopting a strategy that’s almost identical to the one used for over a year by one of their competitors. How odd. Maybe New Commercial Arts knows something I don’t, but it seems pretty uninspired.

But it did make me wonder if this is just something all supermarkets are doing now, so I Googled ‘Good Morrisons’ and – knock me down with a feather! – I found that their endline from three years ago was Make Good Things Happen, which seems to be basically interchangeable with the Sainsbury’s and Waitrose strategies.

What happened to being distinctive? Different? Not boring?

Going back to Waitrose, they used to produce excellent advertising that really stood out, and was tonally consistent with their position as the more upmarket supermarket. Maybe I’ve been out of the country too long, and there’s no longer any difference between the major supermarkets, but it seems odd for Waitrose to give up their premium status to join all the other mid-market choices.

Anyway, all these ‘good’ supermarkets are merely descendants of the original (also Sainsbury’s), who used the word to establish an entirely new positioning: a supermarket that prized and promoted the quality of their food:

That line ran for over thirty years.

Will the others prove to be as good?