Thursday, May 21, 2009
If Uncle Ben's made an advert for Chinese people...
Those of you in the UK will know that for the last few years the American company Uncle Ben's has been running some really lame TV commercials for its ethnic food range.
The idea is always the same: A white, middle-class household sits down to dinner. Someone takes out some Uncle Ben's convenience food and starts heating it up.
The food is meant to smell so great that people in the country where the food hails from (in the case of sweet and sour sauce, China) drop what they're doing and rush over en masse to England and end up at the family's house where they enjoy the Uncle Ben's dinner.
Yes, Uncle Ben's are so amazing that apparently Chinese people would actually leave China and travel across the world to eat their reheated sweet and sour sauce!
If you don't know the ads, you can view them here:
Uncle Ben's commercial 1
Uncle Ben's commercial 2
Apart from the whole concept being ridiculous, the ads are made even more super-patronising by showing the ethnic characters as mute, grinning and dressed in stereotypical national dress (sombreros for the Mexicans, kung fu outfits for the Chinese etc.).
These stupid ads caught the attention of designer Lisa Lam, who has penned 'An Open Letter to Uncle Ben' on her blog.
They also got me thinking: I wondered what if Uncle Ben's made a 'Western' convenience food and used the same marketing strategy in China?
I imagine the commercial would go something like this....
In a tiny, cramped Hong Kong apartment kitchen, a pretty Chinese housewife tries to decide what to make for dinner (because it's so hard to get a decent meal in Hong Kong). She opens her cupboard and picks a jar of new Uncle Ben's Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding and Gravy in a jar! Yummy! With a big smile she open the jar and pours out some brown sludge into a frying pan.
We then jump to London, England:
Inside Number 10 Downing Street, two men who look remarkably like Gordon Brown and Tony Blair suddenly stop what they're doing and sniff the air. Mmm, the unmistakable aroma of roast beef, their favourite food! Let's go!
Meanwhile in a traditional thatched cottage, a farmer is shearing his sheep on the kitchen table. Suddenly he stops what he's doing and sniffs the air. Mmmm, Yorkshire puddings! I must have some of that!
Meanwhile at Wembley stadium, someone who looks remarkably like David Beckham suddenly stops practising free kicks and sniffs the air! Mmm, that gravy smells delicious! I must go to where it's coming from!
Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, the farmer and Becks all jump aboard a red London bus and head for Hong Kong.
The bus arrives at Nathan Road, everyone gets out and runs up to the apartment.
The Hong Kong housewife opens the door, looks surprised and lets them all in (except for Gordon Brown who has to stand outside because the apartment is too small). Everyone sits down to dinner and they enjoy Uncle Ben's Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding together! Mmm. Uncle Ben's.
I think it would work, don't you? :)