Maple Syrup Advertising Pitfalls

by Tig Tillinghast

It’s the stuff of maple syrup marketer nightmares: your ad appears on a site juxtaposed against content that puts your product in the worst possible light. When airlines sign ad contracts with TV networks, they have provisions for the ads to be pulled during news cycles covering plane crashes. But, no matter how much care you take, there’s always some situation you didn’t anticipate. Maple syrup producers face a problem when using online advertising because those online ad systems often aren’t sophisticated enough to know the difference between pages about maple furniture versus those about maple syrup. Worse, the doctors have named a peculiar and terrible ailment “maple syrup urine disease,” or MSUD. This gives rise to maple syrup ads popping up on MSUD web pages, and almost as bad, urine odor removal ads appearing on maple syrup sites.

Here is an example of one producer’s ad appearing next to a urine odor advertisement for just that reason.

There’s not much one can do about incorrectly targeted ads appearing at the same time as your maple syrup ads, but you can usually prevent your own ads from appearing on inappropriate sites. Systems like Google and Yahoo allow you to use “negative” keywords, which essentially prevent your ad from appearing after users use certain keyword terms. For instance, if you use the negative keyword “furniture,” your ad won’t appear on pages dealing with “maple furniture.”

Maple syrup happens to run into this sort of problem quite a lot. There are two different fad diets out there, each using Grade B maple syrup as a key component. But these diets: the “Maple Syrup Diet” and the “Master Cleanser Diet,” along with a few other variations, involve some pretty disgusting behaviors. They remind me of my friends in high school who were wrestlers, always trying to make a lower weight class. Before weigh-in, they would sometimes take large quantities of Ex-Lax to eliminate additional weight. These maple syrup diets use pretty much the same principle, and are probably about as permanent a solution to weight gain.

Some maple syrup makers have keyed into these markets. One of the most popular New Hampshire maple syrup producer sites even created a special package of Grade B maple syrup specifically for one of the diets.

Many online ad networks allow you to prevent your ad from appearing on particular sites. It’s usually a good idea to explore all the targeting options on your ad account to ensure sure your maple syrup ad doesn’t appear with some embarrassing juxtapositions.