Have You Tried 'Doctor Fork' Pizza Yet? Google Pushes Fake Food Ads in Marketing Experiment

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Google and Unskippable Labs cooked up a new project that has marketers salivating with new ideas.

The company created a fake pizza brand, “Doctor Fork,” as a way to challenge conventional marketing strategies and see how far they could push the advertising envelope.

According to TechCrunch, Google conceptualized and ran 33 ads on YouTube. The clips were made from stock footage and images, focused mainly on two things—the perfect “man vs. food” ratio and whether the number of sensory cues affected the effectiveness of the ad. In layman's terms, the former deals with the ratio of human images against shots of food while the latter deals with the cues that stimulate our senses (ex. shots of stringy mozzarella, the sounds of vegetables being chopped).

The bogus Doctor Fork ads generated 20 million impressions and led to some useful and revealing conclusions. For one, the experiment showed that immersive experiences that utilized multiple senses provide better recall. This means advertisers should try to stimulate all of the consumers' senses (ex. audio, text, and video).

The company also concluded that separating audio and visuals has more of an impact in terms of brand favorability and recall. So does giving explicit instructions to the customer.

The Doctor Fork ads also showed that when it comes to food commercials, close up shots of food get people's motors running. The experiment also proved that the bite and smile axiom that has been strictly followed by marketers is not the sole way of presenting a pleasant food experience. This finding gives food sellers more leeway when it comes to showing people enjoying their food.

Google's decision to use a fake company to study how people would react to their ads was an inspired one. Legitimate companies are constrained to following certain ad styles. For instance, food commercials usually don't show someone chewing their food while looking at the camera. But this unspoken rule has never been tested so it can't definitively be said that chewing and looking at the audience is bad. Unfortunately, brands are not willing to branch out in terms of style since an ad that flops is costly.

Since Doctor Fork is not real, Google didn't waste valuable ad time or lose any real customers. The fake pizza brand provided the company with the freedom to take risks. Ben Jones, the creative director of Unskippable Ads, explained it quite well when he said that “Doctor Fork can do whatever he wants.” He added that they used “the freedom of the unbranded ad to be wrong, to push in directions and ask questions that a brand will not.”

[Featured image via Pixabay]
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