French Candy Carambar Punks France

The Background: Sometimes the buzz generated from a word-of-mouth campaign is especially sweet. When well-known French caramel candy brand Carambar felt that it was losing a bit of its iconic edge, Fred & Farid Group stepped in with a novel idea. The agency orchestrated an elaborate hoax, tapping the power of social media to prank all of France. The plan was to jumpstart chatter in the form of a public announcement that Carambar had decided to replace the goofy and beloved jokes that have been printed on its wrappers since the company’s founding in the 1960s with math problems, spelling quizzes, and geography questions.

Fast Fact: The Carambar jokes resemble the Bazooka Joe jokes of yore. For example, “A troublemaker says to his mother: ‘I would have liked to live in the Middle Ages.’ ‘Why?’ she asks. He responds: ‘Because I would have less history to learn!’”

The Channels: In March Carambar sent press kits to 100 key influencers throughout France revealing the fake news that the jokes would be no more, which created media uproar across the country.

The Results: In less than an hour after the fake news release, Carambar became a trending topic on Twitter, and in the days that followed, every major media outlet in France—print, TV, and radio—overed the story, resulting in 950 mentions. There were 17 petitions created to bring the jokes back. Five days later the brand posted a video tagged #itasajoke explaining the hoax and within three hours, Carambar was trending on Twitter again. In total the campaign generated 55,000 tweets and boosted all key brand measures—18% increase in awareness; 29% uptick in brand preference; and 17% improvement in consideration. Carambar also saw record sales, which shot up 39% after the campaign—and all without a single Euro spent on paid media.

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