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Toasted Goliath Tarantulas

My brother Dick and I, maybe 7 and 8 years old, were wrestling in the knee-high grass and weeds behind our one bedroom house. The house was nestled near a creek that ran along the  backside of the property.

In the midst of our scuffling, Dick sat up screaming. His right arm was extended out to his side, frozen in space as he watched a hairy-legged tarantula the size of a tennis ball walk menacingly up his forearm.

Not 12 inches from the spider myself, I watched transfixed in horror for an eternity – which was probably 3 or 4 seconds – and then stood up and screamed for Dick to shake it off.

Dick swatted the tarantula from his arm and we both ran into the house screaming.

Decades later both of us still remember that day. Though we chuckle in recollection, the image remains unsettling.

So I am mildly stunned, strolling through a series of award-winning print ads in Ad Week, to find the Land Rover, a world class automobile, positioned with…tarantulas.

Not just any tarantulas, but toasted goliath tarantulas.

The copy next to the photograph of the skewed spiders reads…

A favorite snack for children in the Orinoco River Basin.

But the headline above the ad seeks to position Land Rover as a vehicle that can go anywhere: Land Rover can take you to such remote places, you won’t believe the food there.

I thought couldn’t imagine a more disgusting meal than goliath tarantulas, but I was wrong. Land Rover pushed the envelope with stewed wildebeest eyeballs – a tribal delicacy served at weddings in the Nambian bush. The eyeball ad also carried the positioning line about Land Rover taking you to remote places.

And then that all time favorite, fruit bat, promoted as a gourmet treat on the island of Palau. (Look closely and you can see the bat’s fangs). And again Land Rover can take you to such remote places, you won’t believe the food there.

I guess they made their point, but those positioning images didn’t increase my desire for a Land Rover – maybe some of you thrill to the call of Wildebeest eyeball stew, but the thought of chowing down on a bat, whose little rabies laced fangs are looking at me, makes my stomach roil. Not a positioning moment for a set of luxury wheels. Not for moi.

But I’m curious, do you find tying the Land Rover’s ability to take you to remote places by showing you ultra-exotic dishes served in those places effective advertising? Do the ads increase the prospect of your ever buying a Land Rover (over and above what your interest might have been before seeing the ads)?

Let me know.

And if your product or service needs positioning, give us a call. We’ve been helping companies with positioning for 25 years. (But we’ll leave the tarantulas, wildebeest eyeballs and bats to Land Rover.)



Bruce Wiseman

President & CWO

On Target Research