Ever notice how incestuous the scripts appear when it comes to TV ads that pitch certain foods? For example, one week some restaurant chain is pitching its new “Asiago chicken strips.” A week later, the Madison Avenue pitchmen have incorporated “Asiago” into everything from hamburgers to baked fish.
Last weekend at one point during the NFL football playoffs, I watched three TV ads in a row for different products during a game break. All three used “Asiago” at least once in their presentations. Suddenly, “Asiago” had replaced “signature” — another buzzword that apparently wore out its welcome after several weeks of over-exposure.
Obviously, the shallowness of “being trendy” rules in too many corners of the advertising and public-relations game.
But back to Asiago (pronounced “a-zhee-AH-go”). What the heck does Asiago mean? What is it? Where did it come from? What led to Asiago’s meteoric rise in usage among food advertisers?
Well, it’s a type of Italian cheese made from whole cow’s milk. The name derives from the town of Asiago in the northeast Veneto region of Italy, where the cheese was first produced.
Culinary arts veteran Danilo Alfaro says that depending on how long it is aged, Asiago cheese offers varying flavors and textures. Fresh Asiago has a smooth texture, mild flavor and white color. When aged at least six months, it’s crumbly in texture, presents a more pungent flavor and is a light yellow color.
Fresh Asiago cheese can be used for making good sandwiches. Or it can be served with or on crackers. When aged, it’s usually grated and can be used in cooking — e.g., on pizza — and making sauces. Aged Asiago cheese resembles Parmesan cheese in flavor.
But the main attraction of the cheese these days is its pronunciation. “Asiago” rolls off the tongue when you say it. Moreover, it’s a foreign word, spicing up the exotic nature and authenticity –real or imagined — of any product description.
That’s likely why every Tom, Dick and Harry on Madison Avenue is pushing food and recipes that incorporate Asiago cheese. One current 30-second ad for Wendy’s hamburgers incorporates the word “Asiago” no fewer than a dozen times. The repetition borders on reviling.
Get lost, pretzel buns. You’re history. You’ve been upstaged by Asiago this and Asiago that and Asiago ad infinitum. Wonder what’s next.