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What does an outdated rapper have to do with snacks, kids who want snacks, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?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?

New Strategies Arise to Communicate with Super Bowl Audience

Buying an expensive Super Bowl ad isn’t the only way to get people talking about you on the biggest Sunday in February. While the game itself turned out to be a blowout, the audience still stuck around. Whether we wanted to see more commercials, or just didn’t have anything else to do, we kept watching. I, for one, multitasked and turned to Twitter and other online platforms to find out the latest buzz. Let’s take a look at some of my favorites.

JCPenney’s #TweetingWithMittens

To my generation, JCPenney is a forgotten brand, but when the JCPenney Twitter account started tweeting out what looked like drunken tweets, the Twittersphere exploded. As people’s attention moved away from the game, the buzz became about JCPenney’s odd tweets.

Who kkmew theis was ghiong tob e a baweball ghamle. #lowsscorinh 5_0

— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 2, 2014

Toughdown Seadawks!! Is sSeattle going toa runaway wit h this???

— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 3, 2014

They soon followed it with this.

Oops…Sorry for the typos. We were #TweetingWithMittens. Wasn’t it supposed to be colder? Enjoy the game! #GoTeamUSA pic.twitter.com/e8GvnTiEGl

— JCPenney (@jcpenney) February 3, 2014

Although many thought that this wasn’t a planned effort or just didn’t like it in general, I loved it. This cost them next to nothing and got EVERYONE talking about it. Maybe the humor wasn’t on point, but while it may not make everyone laugh, it got us all paying attention.

JCPenney has long been a supporter of the US Olympic team, and this was a great way to get people talking about them again. I may just go get myself some USA mittens!

Newcastle’s Mega Huge Football Game Ad

I don’t want to beat a dead horse with Newcastle’s Super Bowl campaign, so I’ll talk about their game day strategy. Newcastle didn’t buy a Super Bowl ad, so instead, they piggybacked on everyone else’s commercials.

.@jaguar see the mega huge version of your british villain ad the way we would’ve made it: http://t.co/bYpq9P0R7u #IfWeMadeIt #GoodToBeBad

— Newcastle Brown Ale (@Newcastle) February 3, 2014

Riding off the success of the earlier parts of this campaign, they kept people talking about them. Using some clever, quick-working storyboard artists and a Twitter account, Newcastle played the real time marketing game well.

#EsuranceSave30

By choosing the ad spot immediately after the Super Bowl instead of one during it, Esurance saved $1.5 million and decided to give it to the people!

This may not be the funniest commercial of the Super Bowl, but they had EVERYONE talking about them. I’m not usually one for social media competitions that have users create content that doesn’t have create anything else, but for free money, I’ll give it a try.

It’s very interesting to see companies move away from the main spots to communicate their messages and I can’t wait to see where this goes.

Response: The Audience of Your Audience

That funny video you just made will only work if people want to share it.

As noted by Cassie Boorn in her article about four trends affecting PR departments, “every brand wants a viral video or social media campaign that drives major buzz, but few brands realize what it takes.” The main problem is that the company makes the video for different reasons than the viewer shares it

Let’s say I’m Newcastle Brown Ale and I make a video with Anna Kendrick with her talking about how she was supposed to be in a Super Bowl ad but there was no Super Bowl ad. (See my previous blog post regarding that campaign for more.) If people don’t think it’s worth sharing, my video won’t get beyond that viewer. In order to “go viral,” my video has to meet the needs of my company in telling some sort of worthwhile message, as well as the needs of the viewer in their role as a content creator on social media. Regardless of the fact that they had nothing to do with the video, the likes, shares, and comments associated with their post affect their personal brand just as much as it does my company’s brand. In this case, the video works because the video’s 3,000,000+ views in just a few days mean people want to share it.

So when Boorn writes that her fourth problem affecting PR departments is that the success of a brand is in the hands of the consumer, what I think really needs to be learned is that those viral videos and ads need to meet several different needs. I see plenty of videos that I like that I don’t want to share. That’s partially due to the fact that I don’t want to necessarily be known as the guy who directs you all over the internet and spams your feeds with links, but that also ties into the other part of it, which is that the videos I don’t share don’t meet my needs as a content creator.

In order to be shared, that funny viral video needs three things. First, the viewer has to find it funny. Second, the viewer has to think that his or her followers will also find it funny. Finally, the viewer has to find it appropriate for his or her followers.

Currently flooding my feeds is this bizarre Australian PSA (which could also be fake) about staying in school where out of nowhere, people get blown up. I guess I can see the humor in it, but whoever wants me to share it, whether it be an Australian public agency or some hit-hungry YouTube account, didn’t take into the account that I don’t really want to share a video of people getting blown up because I don’t find that appropriate for Facebook.

In an age where each one of us on social media is a consumer and a producer, it’s crucial for PR pros looking to go the humorous route to take into account the audience of their audience. The success of their campaign depends on it.

-covika

Newcastle Brown Ale Doesn’t Need A Super Bowl Ad

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This Newcastle non-ad campaign is out to prove that you don’t need to spend Super Bowl commercial money to make a splash. It’s all centered on the “Mega Huge Football Game Ad Newcastle Didn’t Actually Make.” (They refer to it slightly different each time.) For the past week, Newcastle has been releasing short videos about an ad they didn’t make because they “don’t have a ridiculously large marketing budget” or something like that. Although the videos seem confusing, especially out of context with each other, by taking a step back, I think it’s pretty obvious they’re just going for brand recognition here. And it’s working!

I first came across this campaign a few days ago when several of my friends posted the Anna Kendrick video on Facebook. I think it’s fair to say that these friends who posted the video were not likely to be Newcastle drinkers. Landing somewhere between your average national domestic and a lower end micro brew, Newcastle Brown Ale doesn’t really strike me as something most 20- or 30-somethings would be into. It’s not a bargain beer and it’s not a craft beer that we’re all so into these days.

The great thing about this campaign is that it got people outside of their current market share talking about their product. Even Kendrick admits in the ad, which hardly talks about the beer itself, that she doesn’t drink Newcastle. By releasing a similar video with formal NFL player Keyshawn Johnson, both the Pitch Perfect audience and the nostalgic football fan audience are talking about Newcastle Brown Ale! The Kendrick video is by far the most successful video with over 3,000,000 views, and it seems to be spreading quickly through new audiences.

The masterpiece, though, to me, is the video they released today. This narrated storyboard is complete with “everything a good commercial should have.” Sex appeal, aliens, superstars, robots, beer, sharks, beer, you name it. Not only is it way over the top ridiculous, but also it brings together the loose ends of all the previous videos. Clearly appealing to a younger beer-drinking audience who may not have explored the beer scene too much, Newcastle’s ad just makes me so curious about Newcastle that I HAVE to try one next time I see it at the store.

As someone who’s done some home brewing and brewery tours, I consider myself to be somewhat brew-savvy (just don’t call me a hipster). I’ve had Newcastle, but I can’t really say I remember what it tastes like other than the fact that it was unique. The brilliance in this campaign is that its only real message is “find out more about us.” The videos all direct you to http://www.ifwemadeit.com, a site with all of their videos for this campaign, and the videos are penetrating new markets. Their name is now associated with the lovable Anna Kendrick and hysterical storyboard videos. Not bad.

The real question is whether or not there actually will be any Newcastle Super Bowl ads. I don’t really think they need one. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. In the mean time, I think they’re doing just fine.

-covika

Pushing the Boundaries: Go Daddy

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Given that we’re a week out from the Super Bowl (even though my Niners didn’t quite make it there), I can’t help but start to dream of what wonders lie ahead of us. With the whole nation watching, the highly coveted Super Bowl ad spots are really a chance for companies to shine. I have countless friends who only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. With all that pressure, it can also be a moment where companies stumble.

Although some commercials go the serious route, such as Dodge’s phenomenal “Farmer” ad last year, most take their 15 seconds and try to be the funniest commercial of the entire game – the one you’ll quote on Monday with your friends. As a serious sports fan, I’ll admit that we definitely need this humor to get the tension created by the game. Okay, it’s often needed to make me laugh when I can’t stand either of the two teams playing. I’ll laugh at the good ones and forget the bad ones, but sometimes an ad can go a little too far.

Internet domain name vendor (I guess that’s what we’ll call them) Go Daddy, known for it’s racy commercials starring racecar driver Danica Patrick, pushed the boundaries with it’s Super Bowl commercial last year featuring a close up kissing scene between model Bar Rafaeli and Walter, some nerdy kid with glasses and overgrown curly hair. Although I personally thought it was hysterical (which made me concerned at my comfort level with PDA), many were repulsed, with the Wall Street Journal even calling the ad an “epic fail.”

By simply asking why this didn’t work, I’d be doing critical thinking an injustice. It wasn’t just that it was a makeout session in full zoom. Obviously, many people at Go Daddy had to have believed it would be a good idea otherwise they wouldn’t have spent the enormous amount of money it takes to buy a Super Bowl ad. Maybe they didn’t want it to “work.” Maybe the point was to have the audience feel so passionately about the content of the commercial, that they would be forced to remember Go Daddy’s name. After all, in order to get their name known in the first place, they followed one of the cardinal rules of advertising: sex sells.

Maybe we don’t all know exactly what Go Daddy does, but I think it’s fair to say that the average citizen knows it has something to do with the Internet. And that’s fine, because most of us aren’t out there buying domain names. Maybe for Go Daddy, they’re okay with not everyone finding the Bar and Walter spot funny. I guess I’m in that minority here. Since humor is different to everyone, in this case, Go Daddy chose to overdo it so much that you would HAVE to notice.

As one of the more memorable ads that year, it’s interesting that it wasn’t the funniest (per average opinion, though I sure thought it was a riot) that resonated. In fact, it was the ad that purposely overstepped humor’s boundaries in order to make a lasting impression. We shouldn’t be too surprised it was Go Daddy, after all. Their ads have been pushing the boundaries every year, and that’s their brand. That’s their angle.

-covika