Thursday, May 14, 2009

Uh Oh, Cheerios: The Matt Koppel Never Say All Theory of Marketing/PR/Advertising

The folks at General Mills made a little boo boo the other day when they stated that Cheerios is "clinically proven to lower cholesterol."

It seems in making that statement they are putting their cereal on the same level as prescription drugs, at least according to the Food and Drug Administration. If they would like to continue to make that statement they can pull their cereal from the market and have it tested, or they could think of another way to say "clinically proven to lower cholesterol."

This fiasco leads me back to a theory that I am going to claim as mine (until someone else shows me a text that says otherwise): The Never Say All Theory.

Basically, I theorize that there is almost never a situation in Marketing, Communications, or Marketing Communications where a message can be completely authoritative. Therefore, as messengers, we must never say "All." In the event we are proven wrong, the negative backlash will be much greater than the brow beating you could take for not fully backing a statement.

Remember this picture?

Or, maybe this video.

Finally, notice how I am saying that this is a theory. If someone were to show me a message using an authoritative "all" statement that's true, I could say that's why my theory is a theory and not a law. Maybe it's anecdotal evidence, but we should know nothing is 100% in this business. The conversation would be over and we can move on to something else.

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