Q: What challenges was SuperPretzel facing at the start of its awareness campaign?
A: The parent company, J & J Snackfoods, originally came to us looking for a TV campaign. To start, we were facing a down market, so that was one major challenge. Also, we had a relatively small budget compared to competitors. We thought, how can we make an impact on a national scale? Knowing that teenagers are spending more time online, we wanted to leverage the Internet.
Q: What did you decide to do?
A: The idea was a viral campaign made up of 26 viral videos that followed the storylines of different wrestler characters, each representing a different flavor of SuperPretzel. All the characters had a strategic purpose. We created these storylines letting people know about lives of characters but also inviting people back to see the storylines on an ongoing basis. So we had an entire mock season of wrestling, which was well received for both male and female teens. We had TV spots on Comedy Central and MTV inviting people to keep coming. We had a YouTube channel, [posted videos on] superpretzel.com and then we developed a microsite. The goal was not to just lead to a product Web site, we wanted a separate marketing campaign that steered away from product information and focused more on building the brand. This was a great way to extend a limited budget and create buzz.
Q: What were the results?
A: We had about 600,000 views on our YouTube channel. Also, SuperPretzel’s Web site got more than 243,000 unique visitors in March 2007, as opposed to 2006 where it had 28,000 unique visitors.
Q: What was the biggest takeaway from this campaign?
A: To play in this viral world of social marketing, you can’t take yourself too seriously. This is something that is really difficult for a lot of traditional companies to accept. You need to become your audience as opposed to being a brand speaking to your audience. This, in turn, generates interest in the brand. Being genuine is most effective in viral marketing. There were a lot of other social networks we would have liked to leverage, we would have liked to use MySpace and some others, but our budget was limited.