Ad Watch: Oscar Mayer's "Grandpa" Brings Home the Bacon


Welcome tailgaters and avid consumers of foods containing immense amounts of protein. In today’s ad watch, we’re going to take a few moments to enjoy some of the finer things in life. Specifically, we’re going to focus on the luxuries of conveniently wrapped and easily accessible meats from a variety of farm animals who in turn came from potentially debatable origins. Yes my friends, its time to brush up on your weenie whistle skills and rev up your Weinermobiles, for we’re going to take a look at some of Oscar Mayer’s most recent advertising campaigns. (Interesting fact: Did you know that the Weinermobile actually has a “hot dog smell” button? Me? Of course I knew.)

Over the past six months, Oscar Mayer has pushed out a handful of advertising efforts in both social media and television formats that have succeeded in being both amusing and informative. These aforementioned campaigns have come from talented agencies such as McGarryBowen and 360i. While all of these efforts have focused on the convenience and deliciousness of Oscar Mayer’s vast array of meat products, the general themes from the ads have varied. For example, the commercial seen in the top right of this post concentrates on a grandpa who takes being literal to a whole new level of beautiful awkwardness. Mostly, I think this man needs a hug, as he’s clearly a little too impressed be a luminous transparent container of ham. Okay, it wasn’t exactly gleaming, but it might as well have been. After all, this was the only thing that could impress straight-talking grandpa.

Oscar Mayer has also had a fair share of sizzling social media success recently with their "Bacon Barter" campaign by 360i (sample video found on the bottom right of this post). Its purpose was to grasp the mass appeal of bacon on the world wide web and tie it in with the Oscar Mayer brand. To do this, Comedian Josh Sankey was tasked with taking bricks of the new Butcher Thick Cut Bacon product on a 3,000 mile social media-driven road trip across the United States. He used the massive supply of bacon at his disposal to barter for everything from places to sleep, gas, food and odd clothing choices.

By the time Josh reached LA, he had bartered 2,168 bricks of bacon with over 1,000 bacon-lovers across 3,688 miles.

The campaign earned over 335 million earned media impressions in a country of 300 million people, with major media outlets like The New York Times, Advertising Age, Huffington Post, CNBC, USA Today and NPR covering Josh’s journey.

Conversations about Oscar Mayer doubled during the campaign, and the brand saw a 41 percent increase in positive sentiment. Oscar Mayer became America’s most talked about bacon brand, generating more online buzz than its four biggest competitors combined.

"The Great American Bacon Barter" was named the Best Social Media Campaign at the 2012 Creative Media Awards. [read more]

What I wouldn't trade for a brick of bacon. Apparently a lot of people agree, since the campaign made 300,360,000 media impressions. Not bad, bacon. Not bad. And a fantastic sample of social media gone right.

What makes these campaigns effective? Great question. Upon doing research into Oscar Mayer’s most recent efforts, I can across a blog post on 8bitdad.com. The author of this blog, Zach Rosenberg, takes the stance of a father who is disappointed with the lack of family values portrayed in the ads specifically created by McGarryBowen. I’ll admit that these ads do indeed portray fathers (and also mothers) to be simple-minded and oblivious individuals. And I'll also agree that these images won't strengthen family bonds or create inspiring role models. But when I watch a commercial with the intention in gauging its effectiveness, I’m not looking for family values unless the product itself is meant to encompass said morals/values.

A video is only as effective as its memorability; once those 30 seconds have passed, will you remember what you saw, or will you forget a moment later? Seeing a family hugging around a charbroil grill with sizzling hot dogs is a pleasant image, but if an ad makes someone want to laugh, cry or exude another emotion other than a blank stare (complete with an agape mouth), it has that much more lasting power. Indeed, memorability is the currency of the advertising agency. Love them or hate them, if a commercial makes you feel either of these strong emotions, it can be defined as a success.

Of course, that's just my opinion. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section down below. Do you think the sample videos on this post help bolster the Oscar Mayer brand? Or do you hate them? I for one like what I see. CJP



Check out the bonus video after you watch the above.
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