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Sara Lee vs Oscar Meyer: 10 Poetically Banal Statements from the Hot Dog Lawsuit

The fight between two encased-meat giants concerns, quite simply, how we perceive reality and truth, and whether it’s best described as “100% beef” or “100% beeflicious.”

Oscar Mayer Sack-o-Sauce

 

Now ask yourself, do you really know what beef is?
Then ask yourself
Do you really want beef?
Like that, like that

—Notorious B.I.G., “What’s Beef”

Sara Lee is suing Kraft over hot dog marketing claims. The bits about taste tests are about what you’d expect—boring, especially the part about whether or not the size of the saucepans the hot dogs were boiled in should be standard—but the fight over the meaning of “100% beef” is sort of interesting. It basically comes down to this, from one of the filings:

One way that the consumers attempted to assuage any guilt they felt regarding hot dogs was by purchasing “all-beef varieties (often kosher hot dogs) which they perceived as being of higher quality.”

[snip]

“Quality of meat used (or assumed) ‘all/pure’ beef content is the primary [Reasons to Believe] for a quality hot dog.”

So that’s pretty much it: a rhetorical battle over the subtle legal differences between “100% beef,” “made with 100% beef,” and “100% Beeflicious.” (I see a niche, and am preparing my spec campaign, “the finest sodium diacetate for your microbial protection.")

But for cultish fans of legal and marketing jargon, the suit is not without its small pleasures.

“In terms of a hot dog, the bun is the carrier of the hot dog and the hot dog is the carrier of the condiments.”

“First and foremost, the Oscar Mayer Jumbo Beef frank should look delicious, iconic and heroic. To achieve a heroic image, the hot dog must jump off the page. . . . This is also not a perfectly manicured hot dog. The viewer should feel like they can relate to it. Its grill marks might not be perfect. The mustard might not have the textbook squiggle. The bun shouldn’t feel like a model maker made it. The right mustard is essential. We will explore shades of yellows. . . . Equally important is how this dog is shot
technically. We will explore the most heroic angle possible.”

“As part of its marketing strategy to defend against the competitive threat posed by Oscar Mayer’s reformulated beef frank products, Sara Lee formed a Beef Defense Leadership Team and undertook a Beef Defense Project.”

“‘Consumers generally understand this clear and unambiguous communication [i.e., ‘100% pure beef’] that the product
uses only a beef meat block. More important, they fully expect it to contain other ingredients that make it a ‘hot dog.’”

“A plan to ‘Stabilize’ Oscar Mayer’s meat mixture hot dogs (called ‘Wieners’), which includes this: ‘Lever new beef communication around taste (beefier and juicier) and purity (100% pure beef franks) to halo meat wieners.’”

“‘America’s Best,’ as a claim, has more than one component. It is not specific to taste.”

“When asked a question about a consumer being able to look at printed advertisements as long as she wanted to, Dr. Wind responded: ‘If she had unlimited amount of time and had nothing better to do with her life. It’s very unlikely that that’s what they’ll do.’”

“The words ‘Best,’ ‘America’s Best Beef Franks,’ ‘America’s Best Tasting Franks,” and/or ‘100% Beeflicious’… are incapable of measurement or other proof.”

“That research evaluated three potential brand benefits (Quality, Taste and Satisfaction), twelve potential ‘Reasons to Believe’ or RTBs,1 and 26 different “lines” including ‘100% Beeflicious.’”

“The line provides a meaningful message (both about quality and about taste) and wraps it in an attitude that is ‘hip’ and attention-getting but also feels appropriate for a mom.”

 

Photograph: icki (CC by 2.0); not, it would appear, a parody

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