Sometimes I do have to wonder about the sanity of marketing.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that I am a marketer and really do enjoy coming up with new and interesting communication and promotional ideas especially in this era of social media but I fear the pressure to come up with different ideas to capture the young media savvy market is pushing a few corporate teams into losing their marbles.

Take Heinz beans. They are expanding their range to include a 5 bean tin with more varieties of bean in their yummy sauce.  The new campaign includes the chance to have your name engraved on a bean…..really?!?! Is it just me or is that idea not just plain daft? Who wants a bean with their name engraved on it? even if it does come in a nice box. I am sure that their social media team thought this was a great idea when they were sitting in their studio brainstorming ways to build Facebook into the campaign but isn’t this just ideas gone mad?

In January this year, Kit Kat launched a Facebook competition in their “Choose a Chunky Champion” campaign to figure out which new flavour to add to their range and this really did hit the mark for that particular medium. Each flavour had its own personality created by a specific comedian and the whole campaign was well integrated and incentivised across all media. The result was over half a million responses for this cleverly created campaign which was really only glorified market research. And the winner was … peanut butter.

Greggs the Bakers kind of started it with last year’s Superstar Doughnuts Awards, creating an X Factor style campaign across You Tube, Twitter and Facebook. Once again, each flavour had its own personality and for me, this was a team who really understood social media and had some fun with it all. Digital specialists Steel came up with the campaign saying “it’s not advertising… it’s social entertainment” and the results speak for themselves. Not the fact that “Glam Rock Legend” Jaffa Cake won, but the commercial success that drove bottom line profit. Within the first 5 weeks of the campaign, they sold over 1.4 million doughnuts giving their standard jam doughnut a run for its money. That works out on average at 40,000 doughnuts a day or something like 3200 an hour! This campaign, along with some new store openings, were announced as the reason that Greggs posted such great sales results last October at a time when most other high street food companies were struggling to show any growth at all.

So it can be done, but only where the creative is fun, the concept connects with the zeitgeist, the product development is there and the product gets its own personality….and that doesn’t mean putting a name on a bean.

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