Freelance Writer Files: Can Product Hate Build Loyalty?

The current Miracle Whip TV campaign features Jersey-style hate for the mayonnaisey, yet sweet, product.

It appears that Miracle Whip is playing on the generally accepted fact that there are “Mayo people” and there are “Miracle Whip” people, and never the twain shall meet. Each thinks the other’s fave sandwich spread is yucky. It probably has to do with which one your mom used to make tuna salad.

But this TV spot features Pauly D, who hates Miracle Whip and anyone who likes it. Huh? Does that hatred inspire brand loyalty among MW lovers? Make them feel defensive, so they clutch MW to their collective bosom to shield it from Hellmann’s bullies?

Turning a negative into a positive for MW?

The commercial encourages mayo lovers to taste MW to see if they really do hate it. The last time I tasted it was when I was about ten years old. I still remember the shock, disappointment and anger I felt when I took that first bite of my friend’s mom’s tuna salad sandwich. It was a terrible situation: I was famished, and I love tuna salad, but this tuna salad had been RUINED by the sweet, sticky, overpowering flavor of Miracle Whip. I was a Hellmann’s kid and had never tasted this other stuff before. I reacted like a baby tasting creamed spinach for the first time. Except I didn’t spit it out, because my mother taught me to be polite. The fact that the MW brand has remained popular to this day isn’t so much a miracle as a mystery to me.

Spread it ALL over?

In like fashion, Brits love a certain bread spread called Vegemite. It’s concentrated yeast extract in a jar. Mmm! To the Vegemite virgin, it tastes like something that ought to be used to lubricate machinery and have a label warning of dire consequences if you ingest it. But the Brits gobble it by the gallon (or the litre) every year. Apparently, they even use it under their eyes when they play rugby. And down their… well, never mind.

Obviously retouched to remove the grease...

And on this side of the pond, how about White Castle burgers, better known as “sliders?” Briefly, there was a White Castle nearby. White Castle was exotic and new to me. When it opened, I rushed over and ordered a bag of sliders. With the first savor of burger number one, what impressed me most was how little meat and how much cheese and grease was packed between those eensy buns. I imagined the goo oozing its way through my arteries, toward my aorta. I threw the rest of the sliders and the oil-soaked bag away. Amazingly, these tiny death-bombs are so popular that for fans who aren’t near a White Castle, there are sliders in the grocery store freezer case. Go figger.

But back to the Miracle Whip versus Hellmann’s or Kraft controversy. The MW commercial casts aspersions on people who like Miracle Whip, yet it’s a commercial FOR Miracle Whip. This is a radical twist on the traditional approach, which is to show happy people smiling as they tuck into whatever foodstuff is being promoted. In that sense, the commercial is refreshing. There isn’t a single “bite and smile” shot in it. But will it sell Miracle Whip? I imagine it’s aimed at younger audience members (What are they now, Gen Y or Gen Z?) who are skeptical of anything pushed at them via TV in the traditional way. This message is ironic, edgy and unexpected. So who knows, that may be the recipe for Miracle Whip success.

But as I said, I think preferences are based on what you’re raised with. I say if you’re a MW person, you’re going to use it as always. If you’re a mayo person, you’re not. What do you think?

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