Open-Minded Uncertainty: Biscolata Men and Amada Women

The Biscolata ad that ran in Turkey some years back – and is perhaps still running – flips the beautiful woman concept on its head. Instead of scantily clad gorgeous women pushing a product or service, chocolate biscuit makers Solen peppered their ad with some fine specimens of the male species.

In Bangalore for the first time many lifetimes ago, I noticed that the billboards sold to women rather than to men, playing to the fact that in Indian society, it’s often the women who decide where the money goes. Or so an Indian colleague explained at the time when I commented on this new (to me, at least) phenomenon.

When a brand spans different cultural markets though, what flies in one may not fly in another. An article by Paul Garrison of the Garrison Group explains this, using Biscolata as an example. The ad for the Turkish market is geared towards young women who have desires and want to be desired. But Turkey is ahead of markets, say, in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region when it comes to women’s empowerment. How then to translate the same values and beliefs for a different cultural market?

For the MENA market, Solen rebranded Biscolata as Amada (same biscuit) and this is the ad they came up with:

Usually, I don’t give ads much thought but this one struck a chord as I’d just read a quotation by Dr Dale Turner:

It is the highest form of self-respect to admit our errors and mistakes and make amends for them…A mistake is only an error in judgment, but to adhere to it when it is discovered shows weakness of character.

Who, I wondered, was Dale Turner? Readers across the pond might remember him for his column on religion that ran in the Seattle Times for 21 years. He himself crossed the divide from religious fundamentalism to liberalism – a heady journey that makes for interesting reading. Like Amada’s conductor, he was able to change his mind and realise when he’d erred in his judgment.

In my digging, I happened across the Scopes Trial:

The Scopes trial in 1925 rocked the fundamentalist world, enthralled the country, and became a seminal event in American history. After a sensational trial, with fundamentalism on trial as much as the defendant, Dayton, Tennessee, biology teacher John T. Scopes was found guilty in July 1925 of teaching Darwinism, a theory contrary to the biblical account of creation. A Tennessee statute passed the previous March had mandated only the biblical view.

The trial spawned a nationwide media circus, with the fundamentalists painted as clowns. It dampened enthusiasm for similar legislation in other states, and, “after the Scopes trial Protestant fundamentalists retreated from the public arena and withdrew to their own churches and colleges.”

From an article, to an ad, to a bio, to a history lesson, I’ve spent a couple of interesting hours that culminated in a lovely line from Turner that I thought might resonate with some of you:

Somewhere between intransigent dogma on the one hand and skepticism on the other is another way: open-minded uncertainty.

Craving a chocolate biscuit now…

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