I just read this post by Seth Godin. It got me thinking about branding and more specifically, the power of television advertising as a branding tool. Seth points out that Tabasco is a brand we all know very well. I have a bottle of Tabasco and when I run out, I’ll go buy another.

I noticed something else while glancing at my Tabasco bottle in the fridge. I also always have on hand a bottle of Heinz Ketchup. Beside that sits a no-name jar of yellow mustard and a nice jar of some fancy schmancy grainy Dijon mustard from William & Sonoma. I thought about this for a moment. Why did I have a bottle of Tabasco, Heinz ketchup, specialty Dijon mustard and a little old bottle of no-name ketchup?

Why would I bother to save .99 cents instead of buying a brand named mustard like French’s? Well maybe, yellow mustard is just yellow mustard so who cares right? Well if that’s the case then why not buy the no-name brand ketchup? It’s simple, Heinz the best ketchup money can buy. I always purchase the brand name ketchup. I even paid extra for a new bottle of Heinz Organic Ketchup the other day. The answer to my thought is actually quite simple and relative to the Tabasco story. Heinz Ketchup and Tabasco Hot Sauce are two of the most well-known food products in the world. I’ve seen both companies run different ads on TV frequently. Even if you haven’t seen one recently, you’ll all remember the Heinz ketchup commercials where random people just sit for the ketchup to come out of the bottle. The ketchup will only come out when it’s ready. But you already knew this. You also already knew that Heinz has “57 Varieties.” Most of this, we all learned from watching TV and excellent branding.

I do realize that French’s mustard does do their share of branding. You’ll find French’s at just about every major sporting stadium across the country. But when was the last time you saw a French’s mustard commercial? I honestly can’t remember. I did a Google search and couldn’t find any reference to a French’s mustard commercial. I then searched YouTube and was able to find literally hundreds of “Heinz Ketchup” videos but nothing about mustard.

What does this mean to you? I don’t watch a ton of TV but I watch enough to know that Heinz is the best brand of ketchup money can buy. But when I’m at the grocery store I’m just not convinced the French’s mustard is worth .99 cents more than the no-name stuff. So French’s loses my sale. Maybe it’s just not worth it to advertise mustard on TV? Maybe French’s makes the no-name stuff too? Maybe I’m just not remembering some classic mustard commercials? Maybe it’s just plain old yellow mustard.

[tags] branding, brands, advertising, heinz, mustard, marketing [/tags]