easier fed than understood

From the Ball Park brand, the latest in a ad campaign going back a year, this time for Ball Park Beef Patties, in the “sofa commercial”:

“Men: easier fed than understood” is the theme of the campaign. Two issues: the truncated construction in the slogan, and the gender attitudes behind the slogan.

The truncated slogan. This has the form of a topic NP followed by a comment predicate in reduced form. So, roughly, ‘As for men, they are easier fed than understood; as for men, they are easier to feed than to understand; as for men, it is easier to feed them than to understand them’.

The format is similar to the one in “Women: can’t live with them, can’t live without them” (a quote sometimes attributed, not very plausibly, to Erasmus; Erasmus would have framed the thought in Latin, of course).

The gender attitudes. Here’s the MediaPost story from last January (1/27/12) about the ad campaign:

Ball Park: Men ‘Easier Fed Than Understood’ (by Karlene Lukovitz)

Sara Lee’s Ball Park brand is looking to appeal to the women who buy food for the men in their lives by affectionately ribbing the guys’ quirky behavior.

The tagline for Ball Park’s new campaign — its first from Publicis Seattle, which became the brand’s agency of record in June 2011 — says it all:  “Men. Easier Fed Than Understood.”

The campaign portrays humorous “guy time” moments, while also showcasing Ball Park’s expanded lines of franks. In addition to its classic franks, those lines now include Angus, 100% beef, turkey and “better for you” franks, each of which offers many varieties (such as “lite,” lower-fat, fat- free, bun-size, jumbo and deli-style).

The “guy time” moment in the Beef Patties ad has one guy accidentally dripping sauce from his burger onto the sofa between them (they’re watching football on tv), which the other guy copes with by just turning the sofa cushion over. “Nice”, the first guy says in admiration at the move.

Some men viewing this ad rail against it as sexist (against men), seeing it as the equivalent of  an ad with the message “aren’t women cute, in their air-headed etc. ways”.

Two more pieces of copy from the Ball Park site:

(1) Ball Park makes meaty, delicious food that guys love to eat when they’re hanging out with other guys, being, well, “guys.” Why do we do this? Because we believe that guy time is important, and a big part of guy time is food. Food that is juicy, handheld and easy to make. Because understanding guys might be hard, but feeding them shouldn’t be.

(2) Since the Dawn of Guys, their food has followed a few simple rules. Make it tasty. Make it fast. And it doesn’t hurt if you can cook it over a fire on a stick.

Those rules haven’t changed much over the years. But one thing has: Ball Park makes guy food a whole lot easier.

After all, understanding guys might be hard, but feeding them shouldn’t be.

Ease of preparation is a major selling point in the campaign.

Yes, gender stereotypes. But it’s hard to imagine advertising doing without stereotypes, gender stereotypes among them.



2 Responses to “easier fed than understood”

  1. arnold zwicky Says:

    I mischievously considered entitling this posting “Men and their meat”.

  2. Robert Says:

    Since there are any number of beer ads whose basic message is “Men are jerks, isn’t it fun?”, I’m not sure why this ad should be singled out for complaints. Never mind that the claim of “anti-male prejudice” rings a little hollow in general.

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