by Victoria Colbert, Professional Outreach Chair
Have you seen some of Oscar’s Mayer’s PR campaigns the past couple of years? Pretty impressive in my books. I’ve never really been a fan of Oscar Mayer wieners, or much of their other products really, but I have to tip my hat when Oscar Mayer launches an integrated marketing campaign, merging both branding strategies and social engagement to deliver some of the most outstanding PR campaigns I’ve seen.
The history of Oscar Mayer dates back to the 1920’s when the meat packing industry was notorious for mishandling meat and mistreating employees. To ensure customers that Oscar Mayer’s deli meat in his butcher shop was safe, consistent, and of quality, he labeled all of his meats with a yellow branded rubber band for his customers. Little did he know, a yellow branded rubber band would be the stepping stones for a nationally recognized food brand 100 years later. It’d be hard to come by someone who didn’t know the Oscar Mayer name. I mean, there’s the famous Wienermobile and the jingle that’s been around since the ‘60’s. With a huge consumer loyalty base, what is Oscar Mayer doing these days to keep their name, brand, and products relevant?
The Great American Bacon Barter
If I didn’t see it for myself, I wouldn’t have believed that one man trekked across the U.S. with no money, only bacon as currency. In September of 2012, Oscar Mayer appointed comedian, Josh Sankey, to roadtrip from New York to Los Angeles with 3,000 pounds of their new Butcher Thick Cut Bacon, bartering with Americans just to get by with basic daily essentials. Sankey bartered bacon for a couch to sleep on, food, drink, some New York Jets tickets, and a tattoo. Keeping his social following involved, Sankey kept his Twitter followers informed of each city stop, used YouTube to post videos of his exchanges with Americans, and also launched a Bacon Barter site. Not only did this Great American Bacon Barter earn tons of ad and PR awards, news coverage and impressions, Oscar Mayer and the Great American Bacon Barter earned knowledge that Americans love bacon more than they love cash.
The Unsung Bacon
We often hear about the Unsung Hero, defined as the brave soul who often goes unnoticed, unappreciated, and unacknowledged. Earlier this year, Oscar Mayer introduced America to the Unsung Bacon, Michael Bacon- Kevin Bacon’s virtually unknown brother. In a clever stunt to promote Oscar Mayer’s Turkey Bacon, the Unsung Bacon campaign strove to make Michael Bacon the most popular Bacon family member on Twitter, with a goal to gain more Twitter followers than Kevin Bacon’s some 400 thousand followers. In a short Youtube video, it is explained that Michael Bacon is a well accomplished man, with many talents and awards, including being an Emmy winner, musician and composer, so essentially he is as “good” as his brother Kevin. In a similar parallel, many Americans prefer pork bacon rather than turkey bacon despite its nutritional benefits. So now we understand Oscar Mayer’s “Unsung Bacon” approach. In the end, Michael Bacon did not exceed Kevin’s 400K followers, but he gained a significant amount, jumping from one thousand to eight thousand. If you still want to support the cause, you can follow Michael at @MichaelBacon36.
As cliche as it sounds, Think Outside of the Box!
I sometimes sit in brainstorms and think of the most ridiculous ideas, sometime stunt-y, sometimes brilliant, but many times I don’t say anything because I fear I’m going to sound stupid and my ideas are nothing to build off of. Then I watch how Oscar Mayer conducts their marketing campaigns, and think to myself “Duh!” I mean, they even have launched a bacon scented alarm app… Genius or ridiculous?
The stock market knows better than I, but I don’t feel like Oscar Mayer is declining in sales, or losing consumer loyalty. Yet, they’re creating brilliant original content to keep their consumer audience engaged. It’s really as simple as blurting out a ridiculous idea when brainstorming how to launch product, make an announcement, or celebrate an event. These ideas get people talking, and when people talk they share. In PR, we’re constantly trying deliver messages that will get people’s attention and earn their trust, that’s essentially what our jobs are- to act as the liaison between the the client and the public. What good are we if we’re not keeping the market audience engaged? It’s as simple as the “dumb” idea you’re dying to blurt out.