Sunday, February 13, 2011

Love Wheat Thins? Then you'll love Wheat Thins!

It's kind of hard to believe that this social-media ambush stuff wasn't cooked up by Crispin Porter, but it's actually from an agency called The Escape Pod. Think Wheat Thins are boring? Think again! Now they're still boring, but also annoying.

(Credit to reader Tyler for bringing this particular spot to our attention.)

When Wheat Thins started this campaign, there was - understandably - a lot of debate online over whether it was real or whether the people being visited were simply actors. Wheat Thins responded with a spot in which they visit one such questioner, thus "proving" that they are real. Never mind that, even if you trust that that spot isn't itself faked, it hardly proves without a doubt that all previous spots were not faked. But whatever. The issue here is not the legitimacy of these ads. The issue here is whether or not they suck. Which they do.

Crunch is Calling Guy: "This is CHRISMACHO. He tweeted, 'Had a hunch today would be good but didn't think it would be this good... Wheat Thins is now following me on Twitter.'"
[They knock on Chris's door]
CCG: "You Chris?"
Chris: "Yeah."
CCG: "You remember when you tweeted, 'Had a hunch today would be good but didn't think it would be this good... Wheat Thins is now following me on Twitter?'"

This commercial is now half over. And virtually all that has happened is that the Crunch is Calling guy read this snooze-inducing tweet twice. Twice! I didn't need to hear that shit once. By the way, every single commercial in this series involves this dude reading an asinine tweet out loud twice. Great way to get me to change the channel; not so great way to get me to care about what's happening.

CCG: "We made your day once, and I have a hunch we're gonna make your day again today. We have this for ya."
[Truck reading "Follow @CHRISMACHO, He's Awesome" pulls up]
CCG: "Guy's gonna be driving around town all day today."

You probably could have spent this money on, say, advertising for Wheat Thins. I don't know. Seems like it might have been a better use of your marketing budget. To those of you who would say that this is advertising for Wheat Thins, let me direct your attention to the following tweets (which are [sic]) received by @CHRISMACHO since this spot began airing:

"hey u the dude from the cereal commercial" - @RobbCroyl

"u the guy frum the chip commercial????" - @713MAINMAINE

"You the dude from the condoms commercial?" - @KWAPT

That last one is most likely a joke, but I'm guessing the first two aren't. It reminds me of when people find posts on this blog by Googling the names of other companies (like people Googling the description of a Burger King ad but writing "Wendy's" with it). When you aren't direct, your brand name is not always as memorable as you think. In this case, we're talking about a commercial in which Wheat Thins themselves don't even appear as anything other than set dressing! At least in other stupid ads in this campaign, like this one, a box of Wheat Thins makes a legitimate appearance.

The end result of this commercial is that @CHRISMACHO now has about 13,000 followers. I'm guessing this is almost 13,000 more than he would otherwise have had, but it's still a pretty modest number considering that his handle was given out in a national ad campaign that explicitly told people to follow him. I'm guessing there were plenty of people who read his feed first, didn't think he was that awesome, and decided that maybe they shouldn't do something just because a box of crackers told them to. Also, @CHRISMACHO does not spend all his time tweeting about Wheat Thins (there are a couple tweets in the last month that mention them), so not a lot of residual advertising there, even to that fairly small number of people who did opt to follow him. But I'm sure it was worth it.

Here's the other thing about these ads: in just about all of them, people get visited because they commented about Wheat Thins on Twitter in a way that made it clear they are already consumers of Wheat Thins. Am I crazy or is saturating the market of existing consumers not really that effective a strategy? Seems to me you should be wanting to create new buyers, and commercials which tell us almost nothing about your product beyond the fact that it exists just might not be the best way to do that. I mean, unless the hope is that this commercial encourages craven fame-whores to tweet about Wheat Thins just to get on TV... but that still doesn't mean they're buying Wheat Thins. The whole thing just seems counterintuitive.

On the bright side, at least these commercials aren't stupid... well, at least they're... um... at least they don't start off by pretending to be about helping Tibet?


Anonymous said...

What I want to know is, if these spots aren't fake, then how are they able to know the exact whereabouts of these people they visit? Not buying this ad campaign.

Anonymous said...

Visited CHRISMACHO about ten days ago and he had I think 2,000-something followers so he's moving up.

But I didn't follow him because he swears up a storm on his Twitter account. I don't understand why a company that would no-doubt wish to be as non-offensive to everyone as possible would tell people on national commercials to follow someone who can't stop cussing.