Nothing sells like youth, beauty, sex---and female friendships?
Pepperidge Farm is investing between 2 to 3 million dollars in a friendship-focused ad campaign designed to help sell its cookies, according to an article in today’s New York Times by advertising guru and journalist Stuart Elliott. This comes on the coattails of the recent Tupperware campaign that uses female friendships to sell its line of plastic leftover containers (see my blog entry on May 13th).
The new website for the campaign, artofthecookie.com, is intended to encourage women to connect with one another (and with Pepperidge Farm) over a cup of tea and naturally, cookies. Sally Horchow, co-author with Roger Horchow of The Art of Friendship: 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections (St. Martin, 2006) serves as the campaign spokesperson, just as Brooke Shields carries the banner for Tupperware.
Print ads are expected to follow in popular women’s magazines like Country Living, Good Housekeeping, and Redbook with the tag line: “Friendship: Is yours an art form or a lost art?” The ads tap into our needs for social connectedness and should elicit positive feelings unless you are lonely or in the midst of a fight with a friend. Then you can go off into a corner and eat cookies, I guess.
On the new site are ten tips for connecting, advice on how to maintain friends from afar, and suggested excuses for hanging out and celebrating with friends. One tip for connecting (called Taking the Road Less Traveled) includes taking a new walking route, eating a different cookie than usual, choosing a different café, or meeting at a different time. A tip for maintaining long-distance friendships is to send a spontaneous gift like guess what?---a box of Pepperidge Farm cookies.
Other than the crass commercialism of the campaign, admittedly, most of the friendship messages are as sweet as maple syrup. But obviously absent is the perspective that some friendships are toxic, painful to maintain, and not worth saving. Now if this is sounding like sour grapes instead of sugar cookies, it’s merely because I believe that we need to dispel the myth that every female friendship has to last forever.