Uncle Ben's is banking on the adage "sex sells" in a new campaign from D'Arcy Masius Benton & Bowles. Three tongue-in-cheek spots break today, using racy imagery unusual for a "boring" category.
The spots tout existing lines and two new products, Rice Bowls and Natural Select. They also reposition Uncle Ben's from a line of dependable ingredients for aspiring chefs to a brand for people who are passionate about food.
The "Passion Lessons" ads, targeting women 25-54, rely heavily on jokey sexual innuendo. "Rice is sort of a boring topic," said DMB&B group creative director Sherry Nemmers. "It was counter intuitive to put the word 'passion' in the ads."
In "Lesson No. 1," a man cooks an elaborate meal in a gothic kitchen. A woman enjoys his caresses (and his culinary skills) as a dramatic score fills the background. "From now on," says a woman's voice, "every night will be wild, filled with endless variety."
"Lesson No. 2." touts Rice Bowls: "It was a passion meant to be satisfied quickly," a woman's voiceover says as a couple sinks to the floor. The line, "He knew what to do, what buttons to push, how long it would take" accompanies images of a man using a microwave. Each vignette ends with the caption, "And you thought rice was boring" and the tagline, "Stir up some passion," as the Uncle Ben's logo winks at the viewer.
Previous ads used professional chefs and the tag, "Good cooks cook with Uncle Ben's," which DMB&B inherited from Bates USA in 1995.
Simon Turner, marketing director at Mars-owned Uncle Ben's, said the campaign will run through 1999 with more than $15 million in support.
"Lesson No. 1" breaks nationally this week, while ads for Rice Bowls and Natural Select will debut in Houston, where the products are being tested.
Rice Bowls, which mix meat with rice and vegetables, are Uncle Ben's first foray into frozen entrƒes. --with Stephanie Thompso