Clif Bar

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

20 May 2019

Clif Bar logo comes alive, mystery dies

When it comes to branding, there’s always a fine line between keeping the mystery alive and blowing it open for all to see. Take Clif Bar, which is unveiling a new TV ad campaign in which its climber logo becomes the brand’s spokesperson.

“In a vacuum, personalizing the logo isn’t a bad idea. But you’ve only got one shot at it. So it’d better be memorable and meaningful. Otherwise, whatever allure the logo owns disappears. And then where are you?”

Now, I bring this up because the Clif Bar ads are related to a discussion we often have at Stealing Share. We all understand there’s a powerful allure from something that’s not completely open for all to see. (The mystery in a whodunit is often more interesting than the reveal, for example.) But at what point does that allure fade? And how far can you take it?

In the case of Clif Bar, the logo of the climber hanging off the side of the mountain was suggestive. It suggested adventure, activity and wilderness.

Now? With the climber now in the flesh, something is lost. Especially because, while his personality seems a touch quirky, the climber doesn’t really stand out as anything all that noticeable.

Clif Bar ad campaign weakens the allure

Dan Hickle, vice president of brand marketing for Clif Bar, tells MediaPost that introducing the climber logo as a real person is an opportunity to break through the “sea of sameness.”

But the climber and the ad feel like just about everything else. There’s little consumers can catch ahold of emotionally to either remember the ad or gain a preference for the brand.

Clif BarSure, the spot links the brand with taking care of the environment, organic foods and sustainable bakeries. But Clif Bar didn’t need to personalize the climber to accomplish that. (No to mention the question whether those values represent the highest emotional intensities in the energy bar market.)

Whatever mystery the logo holds now goes pop. It was much more powerful to not see the man behind the curtain.

In a vacuum, personalizing the logo isn’t a bad idea. But you’ve only got one shot at it. So it’d better be memorable and meaningful. Otherwise, whatever allure the logo owns disappears. And then where are you?

See more posts in the following related categories: Advertising

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