Welch’s “Alton Brown”

What’s a chalkboard doing out in the vineyards in this spot (by The Via Group) for Welch’s Grape Juice? Helping to illustrate a mini-lecture by Alton Brown, who some viewers will recognize as a food scientist/celebrity chef/TV personality/author/etc. (Among other things, he’s host of a Food Network show called Good Eats.) Apparently he’s known for his chalkboard-assisted disquisitions on the science of food, and this makes him a highly suitable spokesperson for Welch’s as the brand positions its product as an aid to health. Brown is wearing a white apron, but a viewer could easily mistake it for a lab coat as he chatters away about polyphenols and antioxidants and free radicals. Actually, Brown’s vocabulary in the spot is technical enough to suggest that Welch’s has serious science on its side, but not so technical as to make viewers wonder whether the spot is trying to put one over on them. And, after all the talk of health, the commercial prudently has Brown say of the juice, “Of course, if you like it just for the taste, that’s OK, too.” This matter-of-fact statement is smart in the way it takes for granted that we all think grape juice is delicious. Consumers often suspect that conspicuously healthy foods can’t taste very good. Addressing that notion directly would be as likely to reinforce it as to rebut it. Brown’s remark has the virtue of keeping the viewer from forming this suspicion in the first place, where Welch’s is concerned. By the way, red wine has polyphenols, too (for much the same reason that grape juice does). Will a vintner have the nerve to promote its product as a boon to your heart, mind and immune system the way this Welch’s spot does? I’ll drink a toast to the first one who does.  –Mark Dolliver