Badvertising: Part 2

The setting: The boardroom of a large advertising agency.

Boss: Alright, I’ll cut to the chase. We all know why we’re here. We’ve been contracted to help sell Teekanne, an herbal tea made in Germany. Let’s hear some ideas. Jones?

Jones: I’ve got just the motto, sir. “Teekanne sure can make tea!”

Boss: Brilliant. What else we got? Smith?

Smith: I’ve been working all month on a campaign based around a mascot, sir. I present to you, Teekanne Sam! He’s a Toucan with a colorful beak that can smell Teekanne herbal tea!

Boss: Good work, Smith. I’m tempted to just go with that. I did have one thought I’d like to bat around a little: what about a celebrity endorsement? You know, a famous person who the average American consumer knows, trusts and admires enough to take a chance on a product they wouldn’t otherwise buy. Suggestions?

Thompson: Duh. Steffi Graf.

Boss: Nailed it.


The other day I was wandering through our grocery store when I saw this:


Unt buy my tea!

I didn’t think much of it until I’d walked over an aisle or two, at which point it dawned just what, exactly, I had seen: A cardboard display touting Steffi Graf’s endorsement of an herbal tea! Which meant, in turn, that an herbal tea company had paid good money to Steffi Graf for her to endorse their product in the hopes of selling more herbal tea. At which point they constructed a marketing campaign around Steffi Graf’s endorsement. Steffi Graf retired in 1999! From tennis! I just . . . I don’t . . . I’m baffled. I don’t know what to say, other than, “This is some delicious herbal tea that I bought because I have long admired German tennis great Steffi Graf!”

Shockingly, Teekanne only takes the silver medal for the most confusing celebrity product endorsement I’ve seen in the past few months. I discovered our gold medal winner while attending a Mets game a month or two ago. As we entered the game we were offered a sample of a new brand of dog food. This isn’t just any dog food, though. This is “Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance Pet Foods.

Dick Van Patten!


All the kids are buying it!

Can somebody help me out here?  Either I need to reexamine all of my assumptions about companies wanting to put their capital to efficient uses or – and this is the less preferable alternative – I’ll be forced to concede that endorsements from long-forgotten players of relatively obscure sports and even-longer-forgotten octogenarian stars of musty old sitcoms actually increase sales of herbal tea and dog food, respectively. I’m serious. I need to find some answers on this one.

For Part 1, please see here.

Oh, and by the way, how awesome is it that you can get an Usher-themed Mastercard? I did a little research on this amazing product, and found the following quote, which may be one of the best things I’ve ever read. “‘With the Usher Raymond IV Debit MasterCard, Usher’s fans have a great way to connect with their favorite entertainer and business entrepreneur, all while enjoying the payment flexibility enabled by a MasterCard card,’ said Bill Mathis, senior VP, Member Relations, MasterCard International, in a statement released last week. ‘Cardholders gain access to financial benefits others might take for granted, such as simplified money handling, budget tracking, bill payment and everyday purchasing power.'”

Usher is easily my favorite business entrepreneur.

Here’s Usher’s statement on the matter. “‘This past year has been a year of real growth and change for me, so I felt that this was the perfect time for me to step it up in the business world,’ Usher said last week. ‘As an entertainer, I make music for everyone, and I wanted the same mindset to apply to all my business ventures. That’s why I’m so excited to work with MasterCard to launch the Usher Raymond IV Debit MasterCard which will financially empower people.'”

And people say hip-hop is over-commercialized.

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25 Responses to Badvertising: Part 2

  1. Braden says:

    I think you are overlooking another possibility. Perhaps Steffi Graff and Dick Van Patten are so desperate to have something to do they paid these companies to let them be endorsers, thus giving the impression that they have more relevance than they really do?

  2. Layne says:

    Davis, thanks for posting the Zions Bank Wednesday post of the week. At Zions Bank, we haven’t forgotten who keeps us in business.

    Other badvertisings are the Macy’s full timeout and the Jiffy Lube 20-second timeout.

  3. Dude, my mom loves Steffi Graf. She’d probably buy the tea. I stood outside her and Andre’s house in Las Vegas one time. Just sayin’. Really, though, long-forgotten player, slightly obscure sport? I’m not buyin it. Wikipedia reports she’s the number one female tennis player of all time, so…

  4. Larry B Fine says:

    Yo Davis….cute blog you have here, but the reviews / observations are lacking…how you say…smarts? Poor Dick and Steffi get sucked into the mindless vacum you call commentary. Davis, may I call you Davis, I would have liked to have seen a little more depth in your review on the connection between the Dick and Steffi with thier products. Great finds and wonderful coffee table talk, but I need more baby. I’m just a hag like you, but would have peeled back the onion a little more before I said it was bad. You get the poor but passing grade of D…would have been an F, but I did find the ripping of the Usher credit card funny. Love-n-hugs baby!.


  5. Christian says:

    As usual, I’m with Larry B on this one. Sorry.

  6. Christian says:

    But seriously. An Usher credit card? Excuse me, an Usher Raymond IV card. It’s a way to connect with a performer you love. Thank you, but I think I’ll just continue to connect with the stars I love the old fashioned way; binoculars and notes left on their pillows.

  7. Serene says:

    At least Steve Young hasn’t started endosing tampons for sports induced nose bleeds yet.

    There’s still hope for the advertising world until that happens.

  8. Serene says:

    I’m suddenly thinking I shouldn’t have posted such a comment on a male-written blog.

    Sorry. I didn’t mean to corrupt anyone.

  9. Elisa says:

    I’m a little slow on the uptake, but do you usually take your dog to Met’s games? Because if not, that’s just WEIRD.

    I wonder when we will see a Braden Mastercard?

  10. Wade says:

    This is pretty awesome too:

    Take a moment to browse the “Recent Bookings” scrolling across the top. You won’t be disappointed.

  11. Landon says:

    I love how Steffi’s autograph is front and center as if it adds value to the endorsement. She put it in ink, she must really be crazy about this stuff. Or that her autograph is one that we all recognize and equate with greatness like Michael Jordan’s. I guess the Teekanne people just want us to know that they didn’t use Steffi’s picture unbeknownst to her and falsify the endorsement.

  12. Ryan says:

    Uh, Davis, you kind of missed the point here. She’s not some mere “celebrity endorser.” I don’t think the folks at Teekanne were looking for some run of the mill endorsement from a “famous” “celebrity.”

    If you look at the WHOLE ad, you’ll see that Steffi Graff is the “brand AMBASSADOR.” She holds a legitimate position to spread the message and values of Teekanne throughout the world. My guess is that this is a position within the German government (although it might be a U.S. government thing too, the wording is vague on that point). Anyway, I wish you wouldn’t confuse brand ambassadors with celebrity endorsers. It’s a little like confusing Bill Clinton’s trip to save that journalist in North Korea with David Petraeus, if you ask me.

  13. Massey says:

    Perhaps another example of Badvertising (or Badassvertising depending on how you look at it). Has anyone seen the Extenze commercial with Jimmy Johnson as the spokesperson? Not Jimmy Johnson the younger, arguably good-looking, race car driver, but Jimmy Johnson the older (really older), former NFL coach and current analyst on FOX. Any marketing campaign for a male-enhancement product is bound to be bad, but throw in an over-the-hill, wrinkled old man speaking to the product’s benefits and you have some serious badvertising. To Extenze’s credit, it could not have picked a guy with a better name to promote it’s product.

  14. Lynn says:

    Funny that you know who Steffi Graf is yet don’t get it as to her relationship to Teekanne.
    Teekanne is a GERMAN tea company known in Europe for its quality and attention to every detail in making tea. From long relationships for farming partnerships to the fact that they don’t seal their teabags with aluminum staples. How do I know this about them, well I saw that a certain well known tennis icon was representing the brand and spent a couple of minutes learning about the company. More than you did in writing the article. What was Steffi Graf known for in her career, being a consumate professional, setting high standards for women’s tennis. She set records that noone’s come close to matching her accomplishments in the sport.
    How does that relate to Tekkanne, should be obvious, shouldn’t it. What I don’t know is how you can compare Van Patten to Steffi Graf, that makes no sense at all.
    Btw, the tea is great , I love it.
    Ryan is correct that Steffi is a Brand Ambassador. She didn’t sign on to represent Teekanne in the U.S. but is worldwide. But no , no governmental involvement.

  15. Lynn says:

    And “Smith” would be fired for your “toucan” cartoon character idea.
    Five year olds don’t shop for tea, that’s why cartoon characters are used for CHILDREN’S cereal and other children’s products.
    You are the only adult I know who would be influenced by a cartoon character to buy something like tea.Says more about you than any Ad agency. Although Teekanne offers children’s teas on the german website, tea isn’t something kids beg their parents to buy.
    A big miss on your understanding of the consumer’s of tea and how to target that audience.
    Btw if you know who Steffi is, how is tennis an obscure sport?
    While I’m at it, apparently Van Patten owns the pet food he is selling, so he isnt a hired celeb endorser. If its his company why wouldn’t he put his name on it.
    Usher, ok, you may be almost right there. Again with him though they are targeting a specific audience of his fans. Who for the most part are old enough to apply at least for a credit card.
    There’s lots of Bad advertising out there that could have proved whatever point you were trying to make.
    Massey’s example of Jimmy Johnson and extendze is one.
    I have one ,Serena Williams and her advertising Tampax after her PMS? driven melt down at the 2009 US open. Maybe not bad advertising but the ad is hilarious for all the wrong reasons.

  16. Christian says:

    I’m with Lynn. Sloppy journalism, D. Maybe next time you should actually pull out your Brittanica and do a little research on Graff and realize she’s a worldwide brand ambassador (which isn’t an official position in the U.S. Cabinet) and not a celebrity endorser. Also, I agree with Lynn that small children aren’t typically going to be the demographic tea companies are after, so toucans are out.

    We expect more of you.

  17. Ryan says:

    What was Steffi Graff known for during her professional career? Lynn, I don’t think you got this one right. Pretty sure the correct answer is: Grunts. Big, loud, consistent grunts.

    Which, if you think about it, makes her perfect for a fine line of well-crafted teas, no?

  18. Davis says:


    I’m sorry, but you can’t tell me that the addition of Teekanne Sam to the campaign wouldn’t induce you to buy more tea. No way. Just be real about this.

  19. Troy says:

    Dangit, Lynn beat me to the punch. I was going to say all those exact same things. In the same condescending tone. Using ALLCAPS to emphasize the fact that both the tea and Steffi are GERMAN. Kudos, Lynn, we’re on the same wavelength, you and I.

    And D, some of us know you work for a large media company. If you ever get put in charge of anything directed toward children, heaven help us all. In your world, we’d have the love child of Steffi Graf and Dick Van Patten feeding their pet Toucan with GERMAN tea.

  20. Charlotte says:

    If you think these celebrity endorsements are strange, you have not watched enough infomercials in your lifetime.

  21. Ben Pratt says:

    CAUTION: physics joke ahead.

    Troy, would that freakish love child be named Dickie Van de Graaff? If it were, I’d be SHOCKED.

  22. Tia says:

    As usual, I’m late on the game here D, but I thought you should know that Dick Van Patten rules and that Romey totally eats his food. And it is awesome. On a side note, you obviously have never watched Rob and Big because Meaty at one point was a model for Nature’s Balance. Anyways….just thought you should know.

  23. Lynn says:

    What was Steffi Graff known for during her professional career? Lynn, I don’t think you got this one right. Pretty sure the correct answer is: Grunts. Big, loud, consistent grunts.

    Which, if you think about it, makes her perfect for a fine line of well-crafted teas, no?

    First of all her name is spelled Graf, not Graff.

    And Steffi never grunted. You have her confused with someone else.
    Steffi is the one in black, the one that’s not grunting.

  24. Lynn says:

    So wrong again, Ryan

  25. At the end of the day those badvertising really works:)

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