Monday, October 11, 2010

Culture: With a Name Like Smucker's...

TORONTO, ONTARIO - On a lazy harvest season holiday such as this one, a certain mood is established. The air has a taste of nippiness, but one can still feel the warmth of direct sunlight. While there's some urgency of the harvest, there is far more anticipation of celebration and feasting, and a feeling that this is a time to savor the beautiful autumn colors and fresh food before the season turns.

I almost hate to admit this, but what captures this time of year most strongly for me is not a piece of folk or popular music, but the commercials of the Jerome Monroe Smucker Company. Throughout much of my lifetime, Smucker's has run radio and television advertisements that perfectly capture the harvest season. With a distinctive piano music background and a voice-over by the legendary Mason Adams, the commercials were fundamentally relaxing and exuded positive emotions not just for the brand but for the fruits that went into their jams, jellies, and other products, and for the season as a whole. Each ended with the well-known tag line, "With a name like Smucker's, it has to be good," first coined by Wyse Advertising in 1961.

The quintessential harvest-era Smucker's commercial came out in 1989, in my opinion. It ran on radio and television, with morning orchard shots (complete with prominent dew) in the television version and just the music and Mason Adams in the radio version:
The sun rises early on harvest day,
Casting lengthening shadows across a ripening orchard.
An orchard filled with sweetening fruit,
Fruit good enough for Smucker's Simply Fruit,
With all the fruit, all the flavor,
Half the sugar of regular jams and jellies,
Only eight calories per teaspoon.
With a name like Smucker's, it has to be good.
Written out, it doesn't seem that special. When voiced by Adams, it sounded like poetry.

Beyond their advertising, I found other reasons to feel good about the Smucker's brand. It supported quality news by advertising in the Christian Science Monitor, the short-lived World Monitor television show, and the CBS World News Roundup. It received ratings as one of the best employers in the United States.

This season, one will not be able to find the old Smucker's ads, even this time of year. In 1994, they switched advertising agencies as the company tried aggressive growth strategies, and Mason Adams died in 2005, with a mention of his voice-over work in his New York Times obituary. The company still advertises, but it no longer resonates the mood of the harvest season.

For me, though, Mason Adams still runs through my head whenever it is time to pick berries or take to the apple orchards--days epitomized by the fall sun, days like today.

No comments: