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What does an outdated rapper have to do with snacks, kids who want snacks, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?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

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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