Oberto Targets ‘Alpha’ Males

LOS ANGELES Oberto Sausage Co. is launching its first national advertising this week with a television-oriented campaign by independent Ground Zero, according to Tom Ennis, vp of marketing.

The “Don’t be a sidekick. Eat like an alpha” campaign uses comedic situations wherein the dominant, admired character is the Oberto snacker. One spot set in a police station shows a female cop styling herself mannishly to copy her alpha-male partner.

Ennis, who came to the company from Brinker International a year ago, said that the campaign was preceded by months of research, including segmentation and ethnographic studies, to determine the self-confident “leader of the pack” young males to target. “They like being guys’ guys, and they’re a little more sophisticated than the typical beef-jerky guy. They love their meat snacks,” he said.

Still, Ennis credited the Jack Links advertising for “talking to regular Joes” and “stimulating the category.” He said that competitor enjoys an estimated 35 percent market share lead, compared to Oberto’s 12 percent. Despite the No. 1 venue for sales occurring in convenience stores typically attached to gas stations, the category is still growing within those outlets, despite fewer customers due to high gas prices.

Because Oberto targets a “more upscale, ex-urban, suburban male, not the traditional camper/fisher/hiker type,” the spots are often set in an office environment, like in one commercial where a Japanese executive is lauded by an acolyte before subserviently suggesting that he’d accompany the executive to the bathroom. “Woodsiness,” says ecd Curt Detweiler, “is a self-imposed limit on the category. We’re opening it up to an afternoon outing, the workplace, to an exchange as casual as a pack of gum.”

“Our challenge is to find what will grow the category,” said Anyssa Bromley, account director at the agency here. “That is, thinking of Oberto in an everyday context and making it relevant to everyone.”
The spots, directed by Smuggler’s Randy Krallman, will run on ESPN, Comedy Central and Spike TV, among other male-oriented outlets. Ennis declined to reveal spending.

Ground Zero will also handle communications for the now Frito-Lay-distributed Oberto brands Lowrey’s, SmokeCraft and Pacific Gold. Spending on the brand was under $2 million in 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.