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Sugar Puffs: mission crimp-ossible

Last night my teenage daughter screeched at me to come and watch a “shocking” TV ad. She was furious. “I read about this online today,” she seethed. “They’re so not getting away with it. Apparently they’re getting sued, and it serves them right!”

The offending ad? This one:

Sugar Puffs’ Honey Monster performing a “crimp”, a singing/rapping style invented by The Mighty Boosh and apparently used in the ad without the knowledge or permission of Boosh founders Noel Fielding and Julian Barratt, who are reported to be considering suing.

(If you want to read more, it’s being discussed at The Sun, NME, Brand Republic and the Russell Brand fan site, to name but a few).

Now, I’m as much a Boosh fan as the next hip ‘n’ groovy 30-something, so I find the whole furore interesting from a personal point of view. As a marketer, I found the story even more fascinating.

Although connecting with customers using their language and interests as common ground is generally a good thing (remember the communications mantra PASS – “Purpose, Audience, Style, Structure”), there’s connecting and there’s crossing the line.

And it seems that Sugar Puffs may have crossed the line with the Honey Monster crimp; instead of connecting with The Yoof, apparently in some cases they’ve outraged the exact group of customers they’re trying to target. For example, comments on YouTube include calls for the product to be boycotted, with one user commenting: “I shall never let a Sugar Puff near my mouth again”.

Overreaction? Perhaps. But it just goes to show that sometimes, being too clever with your marketing communications can do you no favours. Sure, the product is being talked about, but if Sugar Puffs ends up being sued, isn’t that just counter productive?

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