JM Smuckers has launched a new ad campaign promoting Jif peanut butter, and it’s clear they are going for the “weird and wonderful” vibe.

In one ad, a woman sits in a peaceful park setting, enjoying her peanut butter sandwich. A cute squirrel shyly approaches her, eyeing the sandwich and she can’t resist – she tosses him a piece of it. Then another squirrel comes, and another, and another – until she’s surrounded by a sea of squirrels. Amidst the creatures, a man in a squirrel masks walks up to her, unconvincingly muttering in feigned squirrel-speak, “Jif-Jif!”

“That jif-ing good, you’d dress up like a squirrel for it.” 

Apocalyptic peanut butter

Another ad from the campaign depicts an apocalypse scenario, focused on a girl who barely makes it to a safe underground bunker in time. Initially relieved, she thanks the friend that helped her escape. However, as she looks around, she notices something out of the corner of her eye: row after row of generic peanut butter. The music twists upwards ominously. “Is that the only peanut butter that you have?” she asks, breath quickening. “Is that the only kind of peanut butter that you have?! I can’t!” she screams. Losing all composure, she sprints out of the safety of the bunker, to the apocalyptic surface, and the camera switches to a shot of her happily eat Jif as the world ends. 

“That jif-ing good, you’d brave the apocalypse for it.” 

We have questions, Jif

As much as we want to like this campaign, it leaves the viewer with a few questions. What exactly is “jif-ing” supposed to mean? Is it a pathetic ripoff of adjectival slang swearing? Secondly, the whole idea of “what would you do for x?” is by no means original. Ever watched a Klondike commercial, Jif??

That being said, you have to hand it to Jif for being entertaining. Granted, the squirrel thing was bizarre as heck, but it made us laugh out loud. And cinematically, the apocalypse clip was truly well-done.

When weird is weak

Taking the “weird” approach may very well serve as an effective marketing strategy. When done tastefully and conscientiously, it can capture attention and function as a foil for humor. However, a word to the wise: when weird is weak, things can go woefully wrong. For companies serving more mature audiences or in more serious industries, the downside of taking the weird angle is that it can either annoy a user-base that is older and has no time for funny business, or cause the business to lose some credibility in being too over-the-top. 

This response was evident in some of the reactions to Liberty Mutual’s “LiMu Emu” ad campaign earlier this year. After years of having no viable mascot alternative to the Geico gecko or the AFLAC duck, Liberty Mutual decided it was time to get their act together. For some, it felt like lackluster riposte and didn’t really seem to have a connection to the insurance company’s specific benefits outside of the slight name similarity. 

Source: Giphy

Whether you decide to play it safe or waltz into wacky-land with your marketing, we hope you’ve enjoyed watching these weird commercials!