TOSSED: BLOWING THEIR OWN BRAND?

Tossed might be a good brand name for a social media platform for coin collectors. Or an app to help Scotsmen choose their cabers. But it’s a salad bar.

Without doubt, the name is hard (ahem) to forget. In many contexts, the word ‘toss’ has a perfectly innocuous meaning. And it is relevant to food. We toss both pancakes and salads.

It’s just that when I’m buying a salad I don’t really want to be reminded of masturbation. Perhaps my surname just makes me particularly sensitive to such matters.

Anyway, I was very surprised and disappointed to see this sign outside Tossed recently.

Tossed salads.

“Errm, yeah, no dressing for me, thanks…”

The sign only serves to emphasise the name’s connotations. Tossed even refer to their employees as Tossers. According to their website’s homepage, Vincent, their founder, is the Top Tosser.

I’m sure he is.

A Creative Director I worked with at BBH was very disdainful of the idea of ‘borrowed interest’ – ie. trying to make a product more exciting by associating it with something else. Just think of ‘Yodafone’.

Personally, I think borrowed interest can work if the thing being alluded to is relevant to the thing being sold. More importantly, the association should evoke positive feelings for the intended market. Does the Tossed brand reach such a happy ending in the minds of its customers? I’m not so sure.

Sex and eating are among our most primal desires and they bring pleasure, so of course, sex sells. My first Campaign blog praised Beattie McGuinness Bungay’s brilliant campaign for the energy drink, ‘Pussy’.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using sex subtly or not so subtly in advertising. More importantly, it can be very effective.

But the precise nature of the product and the visual and verbal language is crucial. The nuance can make or break the idea. A clumsy understanding of semantics and semiotics (incidentally, both words with sexual etymology) can transform an idea from something sharp, witty and tasteful into a puerile playground joke.

Shortly after not buying a salad at Tossed, someone from Starbucks offered me a small sample of viscous milky liquid. It was cold and delicious. It was banana flavoured. It was a blazing hot day and it went down a treat.

Above all, it was intelligent, contextual marketing.

And unlike one of the salads at Tossed, I’ll be coming back for more.

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