Trust Us…..It’s Natural

by Vicki on February 14, 2014

How much do you think about your food?

Do you care about where your food comes from? How it is grown? How much it has been treated/processed (or not!)? Do you read labels?

Even if you care a lot about the food you eat and spend time trying to nourish yourself well, it should come as no surprise that big food industry has a vested interest in you continuing to buy products that are not so good for you.

You might be thinking, “I’m much savvier about the food I eat than I used to be. I can’t be led into eating foods that are bad for me without making a choice to do so.”

Enter the “natural” trend in food marketing.

“All-natural” and “natural” claims are among the most commonly used claims on new food products, and annual sales of products with “natural” claims are more than $20 billion.

But many products that claim to be “natural” are filled with stuff you couldn’t find in nature – including chemical additives, high fructose corn syrup and genetically engineered ingredients.

Recent studies show that many people believe that “natural” products are free of pesticides or genetically engineered ingredients.

And some people believe that “natural” food is better for the environment than organic food. In fact, one survey found that people are twice as likely to think that “natural” food is free of artificial ingredients.

So what exactly does “natural” mean when it comes to food advertising? Turns out… means nothing.

A clever (and really funny) new campaign to promote USDA certified organics helps consumers understand the difference between products labeled organic and those that are labeled as “natural.”

Here is the short version of the campaign.

If it strikes a chord with you, the longer version is also worth a watch.

And if you are an animal lover, here is one that targets the “natural” label on kibble bags.

Going forward, I’ll be doing a better job of keeping Eric Schlosser’s (Fast Food Nation) advice in mind as I navigate the grocery store –

If they have to put the word ‘natural’ on a box to convince you, it probably isn’t.

*Of course organic producers also want to sell their foods. To read about the standards they must meet to be certified as USDA organic, click here.


Needed: Passion and Conviction

by Trudy on August 30, 2013

I went to see the film Jobs on the weekend. Like many, I am fascinated by the story of Apple from innovation and marketing perspectives.

(FYI I was an early business Mac user, and my first purchased home computer was a Mac, but I lost my way for a time and became a PC person, but have since returned wholeheartedly. Our family has gone from 0 Apple products to at least 11 Apple products in 3 years! And PROVOKE is 100% Mac based.)

The film, and coincidentally a documentary I happened upon the following morning, were reminders of a couple of points for all business leaders:

Steve Jobs’ brilliance came from two primary perspectives.

Passion for the user – he approached innovation from a perspective of what will improve the customer’s life. “A person needs to be able to play a song in no more than three steps.” was the brief for the iPod. Product development backwards from what would be user friendly for the customer. The product needs to fit the customer, not the customer fit the product. Many businesses forget this occasionally (frequently?). Steve Jobs got it early on and stayed compulsively committed to this perspective. We all can benefit from a dose of this kind of compulsiveness in our businesses.

Conviction – this is a person who met obstacle after obstacle, as pretty much any innovator/disruptor/visionary experiences when they are trying to change the rules. Yet he continued to push his vision and maintained his passion. He endured set backs that would have been enough to have stopped many of us, no matter how much we believed in something. He kept the faith, even when he was fired from his own company. He simply found other outlets to manifest his life’s work. It made me think about a key concept of cultural change, that when things get ugliest and most uncomfortable it is precisely the time to not give up, as that is the surest sign of the seas changing.

Two good points to keep in mind when we are having a tough day doing the right thing for the customer.


An A+ in Authenticity

by Trudy on April 26, 2013

I was perusing a favourite company’s materials recently and came across a note from its leader that made my strategic heart sing.

Mainly because what PROVOKE has always held to be true, and share with every client we work with, was in print right before my eyes, being shared with its customers:

  • The company is here to make a difference
  • The company is an authentic expression of who it is and what its beliefs are
  • The company is about purpose first, profits follow purpose

I was so in tune with this I could not wait to continue reading on, I was hooked.

This company laid out its vision statement:

To create an endless reflection of hope, inspiration and love that will ignite the human spirit and change the world.

My goodness, who could argue with that? It sounds like a beautiful place to set up camp.

Any idea who this might be? What category the company is in?

Would it surprise you to know it is furniture?

It is Restoration Hardware that stopped me in my tracks.

It got me thinking, as I relaxed on a piece of Restoration furniture, how will my simple act of repose change the world? Or should I settle for reflecting hope, inspiration and love. Dang it, I just wanted a comfortable place to sit. Now I feel pressure to make something important happen on that sofa!

But I digress.

Gary Friedman, the leader of the company (with the rather lofty title of Chairman Emeritus, Creator and Curator of Restoration Hardware, it gave me a giggle), went on to share that the company decided to eliminate the marketing department (because he says marketing can be manipulative), and replaced it with the Truth Group.

Umm, okay. I was with him up to here. This whole thing is smelling a lot like marketing to me, anyone else sniffing that too. Why? Because it IS the truth. I do think this is their beliefs, and I do think there is a customer group that shares it – this is the magic of marketing. Bringing these two together for mutual benefit.

Goodness sakes people, is anyone out there still thinking in this world of instant transparency/tattling (hello social media!!) that there is any other option but the truth in marketing? Claiming to be who you aren’t is the fastest way to halt a relationship in its tracks (and you may even be at risk of public spanking too!).

Personally, I don’t think you need to enlist a marketing ploy and change your marketing department’s name, that is trying to solve the wrong problem.

Just do the marketing right in the first place, tell the truth, add value to someone, reap the rewards.


Is your Audience Meaningfully Segmented?

March 30, 2012

“You have no real friends on social media when you are a stakeholder. It’s just about fans or foes.” This vision was planted in my brain quite brutally (at a summit on social media marketing) and still remains, to paraphrase the Simon and Garfunkel song. It seems like roles are already set, no room for […]

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Bring your Team in Early

April 1, 2011

I attended a MRIA (Marketing Research and Intelligence Association) luncheon last week on how insight, research and judgment work together to support branding initiatives.   The presenter shared her experience and perspective and challenged the audience on numerous approaches.  The presenter is a big fan of getting everyone involved in research and in particular, group insight […]

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