Adwatch: Rowse honey misses a cultural sweet spot

Rowse is let down by the seriousness of this spot, David Frymann argues.

Adwatch: Rowse honey misses a cultural sweet spot

The recent "Natural wonder of Rowse" ad shows lots of "honey porn" while describing it as a wonder product made from millions of wildflowers and approved by the queen (bee, not our reigning monarch). It does make you rethink what, if anything, you know about honey while cleverly tapping into the trend for all things natural. It also suggests that it’s a superfood without making any questionable claims – something I’m a fan of, since anyone can Google "honey health benefits" for that.

However, it only scores 35% for likeability, according to the latest Adwatch rankings. One obvious reason for this is tonality. Why so serious? Honey conjures up imagery of sweet times; it’s nature’s upper, it makes me think of one of Abba’s most catchy hits and it involves not just one but two famous cartoon bears.

Aside from tone, there’s a bigger cultural miss. At a time when audiences have never been more disengaged yet never more empowered, it’s smart to recognise where the audience energy is – and that’s the natural world. From the remake of Watership Down to Dynasties and Blue Planet, there’s a desire to understand, to question and to act. So why not give the honey bee more of a starring role? It is the brand’s distinctive asset, after all.

Yes, Rowse sells honey, not bees, but it’s easier to get audiences to care about people and animals than products. It’s also a missed trick because the brand has a lovely Hives for Lives initiative to help the plight of the honey bee – but it’s currently rather lost at the end of the ad as a supporting line of copy.  Making this front and centre would have worked wonders for the ad’s likeability and could have shown that choosing Rowse is the start of something wonderful, for you and for the bee population.

TV ads 5 November-16 December 2018. Adwatch research is conducted via an internet omnibus survey among 1,000 adults in Great Britain, aged 16-64, through Research Express, part of Kantar TNS, one of the world’s leading data, insight and consulting agencies. Data supplied by Ebiquity.  

David Frymann is the managing director of Frontier

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