Response: Vanilla Ice, Kraft Mac and Cheese, and Reaching Kids Through Their Parents

As the lone branding and humor blog in my class full of PR blogs, I couldn’t believe the bone my professor Kathryn Thier threw me this week in our options for this week’s response post. This one was even labelled “branding and humor.” No wiggling or maneuvering this week. This one’s right up my alley.

Although it took me a read through Brian Koerber’s Mashable post about Vanilla Ice’s new campaign with Kraft promoting the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mac and cheese to understand the love story between the rapper and the noodles, my initial reaction to the new commercial was utter confusion.

What does an outdated rapper have to do with snacks, kids who want snacks, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Don’t worry, I didn’t get it right on the first try either. The answer? The parents.

Maybe I’m already a 21-year-old geezer, making “back in my day” references, but when I was that kid’s age, Vanilla Ice was already “old school.” Now, I haven’t seen any of these new TMNT movies, but I think I would know if Ice was relevant again. (Although apparently he is.)

Kraft went smart here, though, while going funny. They don’t need to make the kids laugh. The kids want the TMNT mac and cheese because they like the show now. Unfortunately for them, mom and dad do the grocery shopping. BUT, fortunately for them, not only was Vanilla Ice still on the mic when they were younger, but TMNT was the latest craze. Kraft went for the wallet on this one, and by wallet, I actually mean the holder of the wallet.

I’ve heard a few places that the first rule of marketing is that sex sells. I’d like to motion that the second rule of marketing be that nostalgia sells. I may be a few years to young to have a kid who wants mac and cheese (or let alone have a kid), but nothing gets me jonesing for that cheesy goodness, an already nostalgic experience, like noodles in the shape of childhood TV show characters. I’m just waiting for Kraft to release some Rocket Power shapes, and I’ll be good to go.

What do you think? Can nostalgia be the way to our hearts and wallets?


Infographics – Like Hashtags But With More Color

As this blog originates from a class assignment, my blog deviates this week to cover our required topic of infographics.

Why are infographics so addicting? Is it the simple nature? The varying, often comical topics? They’re bite-sized bits of information packed into an easily digestible package. And they’re delicious. Check out some cool ones here.

My infographic centered around the results of the philanthropy event that I recently headed through my fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi. This year, we introduced two new aspects to our event: canning, where we are literally out in the community holding empty coffee tins and asking for donations, and a letter writing campaign. As these elements were new, it was hard to get full participation in them. However, I noticed that the return rates for both of these elements were incredibly high. Every two-hour canning shift of two or three brothers brought back over $100, translating to about $50 per brother per shift, and our current average donation from the letter writing campaign is over $100. We set our fundraising goal at $10,000, and although we are still receiving donations, we haven’t quite made it yet. I wanted to make an infographic to illustrate how widespread participation in these two new elements would get us well beyond our goal.

When I first designed my infographic, there were so many parts to it. I had so much data. I had so many messages I wanted to get across. Parts of it were about our chapter specifically. Parts of it were about our national philanthropy project. Parts of it reflected national nonprofit statistics. The more I added to it, the more I moved things around, hoping it would all make sense together. Although I still have more information that I’d like to convey at some point, I ended up going with this.


I decided that an effective infographic should follow the same rules as an effective hashtag. Personally, I have two criteria for a successful hashtag: brevity and clarity. When you only have 140 characters, you don’t have much space, so the hashtag better be short, but it also must get your point across and its purpose must be clear.

For this infographic, I went to answer the basic question that swirled my brothers’ minds when I introduced these two elements. Why? Because they work! That’s why! Although I believe this infographic works best when coupled with much more background and information about how our philanthropy project works, it can stand alone without any context and still convey the message.

By sticking to my two rules of thumb for hashtags, I took my knowledge of something with which I’m very experienced and applied it to something I’d love to become more experienced in. How did I do? Can my rules stand alone? Or should there be more to look out for when making an infographic?