Why marketing ugly is perfection

In this posting from the LinkedIn Agency Influencer program, brand strategist Rhys Gillmer hails this innovative campaign from Harris Farm.

We all live in a very competitive world, where it’s hard to escape the mould society expects of us to be seen as successful.

It’s a vortex, one which we are all sucked into whether we like to admit it or not: perfection is a safety blanket, something you can rely on to succeed and eliminate your troubles, while beauty, intelligence and wealth – the three pillars used as criteria for success – dictate much of what makes us tick, and this extends beyond being merely human.

Global organisations demand beautiful products that are both innovative and in high demand, and we as consumers have equally high expectations because we are very good at comparing a promise to what was actually delivered.

Whether it’s Apple versus Samsung, Nike versus Adidas, or even Hilton versus The Four Seasons, brands strive for perfection to retain your loyalty.

They simply cannot afford to make mistakes because customers have a multitude of methods at their disposal for brand evaluation, be it functional experience or the value personally received when engaging with their chosen brand.

Global conglomerates need to be perfect, and that’s why I was so shocked when I discovered an Australian grocery chain capitalising on imperfection.

The modern supermarket sets an incredibly high aesthetic standard for food and drinks in stores across the globe, and this is mostly a good thing.

While we like to see the perfect shiny apple beckoning us to take a bite, it often comes with a caveat, eliminating imperfect fruits and vegetables based on their physical appearance and consumer appeal.

An ugly carrot has about the same chance of making it onto a supermarket shelf crowded with plenty of other beautifully bright orange sticks as I do in gate-crashing the Oscar red carpet: simply put, we’re both going to stick out, and not a good way.

But fear not! Harris Farm has found a solution that puts an end to the search for perfectionism, calling it “Imperfect Picks”.

Harris Farm’s advertised imperfection is a seasonal range of fruit and vegetables that are ugly on the outside, but perfect as ever on the inside. That aforementioned ugly carrot still tastes just as good as his good-looking sibling; he just makes it to a different shelf, and one that promotes food being used as opposed to being wasted.

In fact, one of the leading issues in food standards is that of wastage, whereby tonnes of fruits and vegetables are thrown away every year. This is a growing problem, and one which affects local farmers, with 25% of produce left in field after failing to meet the visual standards both consumers and supermarkets have come to expect.

Imperfect Picks welcomes the ugly, and this, in turn, reinforces Harris Farm as an innovative brand. We expect perfection, but when a brand promotes their own imperfection, they become unique and in demand.

Whenever I shop at Harris Farm, the first thing I do is visit the Imperfect Picks section, not only because it reduces waste, but because we as humans are inquisitive beings who enjoy the absurd, especially food.

Brand strategist Rhys Gillmer

Don’t believe me? Consider this: a single Cheeto shaped like Harambe – a gorilla that was shot dead last year in the US – sold for $123,000 on eBay. That’s for a single snack chip that coincidentally looked like a figure from the news. It was imperfect, but we found something beautiful about it, and it netted someone a lot of money.

It’s unlikely your Imperfect Picks imperfect carrot will net you a wad of cash because of its portrayal of Donald Trump, but you shouldn’t care, you’ll be saving money, reducing waste, and getting exactly what you wanted: a carrot with the same nutritional value as the other good looking ones on the shelf.

Rhys Gillmer is brand and partner executive at McCorkell & Associates. 

This article is part of the LinkedIn Agency Influencer program. See more from the program by clicking on the banner below.


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