Column Date 2006-07-27

But first, a word from God

How far will advertising people go to find a celebrity to endorse their product?

Well, how about all the way to God?

There’s now a health bar on the market that, according to the manufacturer, “contains the seven foods that God calls good in Deuteronomy.” (Which are, for those of us not up on our Bible studies, wheat, barley, raisins, honey, figs, pomegranates and olive oil.)

It’s called a Bible Bar, and before the more religious of our readers rush out to buy one, there are a few things you should know about how celebrities are used in marketing.

For one thing, the Bible Bar is made by the same folks who bring us Noah’s Nuggets, King David’s Treat, Seeds of Samson, Elijah’s Fire, and a book for dieters titled “Moses Wasn’t Fat.”

This is, quite frankly, the “A” list of celebrity endorsers. Noah, King David, Samson, Elijah and Moses (or their estates) have obviously all been signed by a smart booking agent, who got them a good deal from this food company.

You should also be aware that each Bible Bar has 270 calories (50 of them from fat). Which means it’s not exactly the healthiest health bar you can eat – Quaker’s Chewy Peanut Butter bar has 120 calories, Health Valley’s Wild Berry Granola has 110 calories, and Kellogg’s Nutri-grain (Honey Oat & Raisin) also has 110.

Leading me to the conclusion that, at least right now, God is not terribly worried about whether we watch our weight or not.

But this “historical” kind of endorsement opens up vast new areas for admen to exploit.

For instance, I would think that a Power Drink endorsed by Hannibal, say, or Alexander the Great, would have broad appeal. (“Contains the 5 essential electrolytes Alexander drank before he ravaged Persepolis!” “Now with even more carbs to help you traverse the Alps -- and still have enough energy to sack small and medium-size cities!”)

For more experimental consumers, a “Fantasy Bar,” made from 100% organic mind-expanding ingredients, might be touted by Franz Kafka, or Hunter Thompson, or possibly Hieronymus Bosch. (To reach the younger, less-literate audience, of course, it would become a “Stephen King Fantasy Bar.”)

Even something as ordinary as running shoes could benefit from an ancient celebrity endorser like Pheidippides, the legendary Greek soldier who ran all the way from Marathon to Athens to bring news of victory over the Persians. Get ready for “Original Greek Marathon Running Shoes”– constructed according to the ancient writings of Pheidippides, found in remote caves on even remoter Greek Islands.

And last but not least, I like the idea of bringing out a sound system that promises you “music exactly the way Mozart heard it.” Genetic reconstructions of Mozart’s skull and computer simulations of how he heard his music should be a piece of cake for our electronics engineers.

And, honestly, who among us wouldn’t buy a sound system endorsed by Wolfgang Amadeus?

History can be useful. If you know how to market it.

©2006 Peter Tannen