The makeup of today’s family is changing and brands need to decide whether they’re going to change along with it. For instance, there are nearly 20 million single parent households, according to the “America’s Families and Living Arrangements: 2012” report issued by the United States Census Bureau this past August. In addition, about 8% of all U.S. married adults have a spouse of a different race or ethnicity, according to Pew Research’s 2010 to 2012 Current Population Surveys.
One brand embracing these changes is Graham cracker brand Honey Maid, as evidenced by its “This is Wholesome” integrated marketing campaign, which features vignettes of actual families.
“We feel it’s critical to share stories and advertising that reflect our consumers, and we’re committed to demonstrating what the American family looks like today,” says Gary Osifchin, senior marketing director of biscuits at parent company Mondelez International. “We’re celebrating the diversity of families. And while we could never be fully inclusive of all families, the campaign is a representative cross-section of some of the diversity we see in American society today.”
The campaign, which launched March 10 and will run into the “foreseeable future,” includes four television spots, media partnerships, PR, and digital and social media programs. For instance, Honey Maid fans can share pictures of their families via Twitter and Instagram along with the hashtag #thisiswholesome. In addition, consumers can visit the brand’s Facebook and YouTube channels to learn more about Honey Maid’s products. Osifchin also notes that the TV ads will be running on multicultural channels that cater to today’s American family. And because the brand found it challenging to whittle down the family footage into a 30-second TV spot, Honey Maid produced longer films highlighting the families.
“The campaign is focused on sharing the stories of some real-life, diverse American families [and] illustrating that while families may look different…than they did in the past, the family connections they have, like our Honey Maid products, remain wholesome at the core,” Osifchin says.
Honey Maid isn’t the only brand to focus on diversity. Coca-Cola is another. Its Super Bowl commercial featured a rendition of “America the Beautiful” sung in several different languages to highlight the various cultures that comprise the United States—a spot that earned more than 11 million YouTube views. Similarly, Banana Republic pays homage to “true relationships, true style, and true emotions” in its “True Outfitters” campaign by featuring different couples and families, including interior designers Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent, as well as European models Sara Blomqvist and Jeremy Young.
However, not all consumers support these brands’ marketing efforts. Although Osifchin says that the overall reaction to Honey Maid’s spots has been “positive,” the campaign has received some unfavorable comments, as well—including consumers posting on YouTube that they will no longer purchase Honey Maid products.
In the article “Modern Family: A Reality for Today’s Marketers,” Terry Young, CEO of culture-tracking agency sparks & honey, told Direct Marketing News that consumers tend to be more open to brands featuring certain family dynamics over others. He said that this is particularly true when it comes to addressing sexual orientation.
“I think there are certain configurations that have been around long enough that it’s not controversial at all,” Young said. “When you bring sexuality into it, it becomes controversial because it gets tied back to religion. This is going to have to be something that every company decides for themselves.”
Honey Maid has responded to consumers’ comments both in aggregate and individually on social, including posting the following message on its YouTube channel:
“Today we celebrate all families. From working moms to two moms; stay at home dads to single dads; adopted kids to surrogate kids. Honey Maid recognizes that the reality of family has changed, but the wholesome connections that all families share will endure. #thisiswholesome.”
Granted, not every brand may choose to respond to its consumers’ comments. In the same article, Young told Direct Marketing News that the choice to respond really depends on the brand’s overall philosophy.
“We’re celebrating wholesome families of all types in this campaign, and our fans recognize that,” Osifchin says. “Just like our products, Honey Maid believes that no matter how things change, what makes us wholesome endures.”