KANSAS CITY — As the phrase suggests, it’s not easy to catch lightning in a bottle. But, for the social marketing team at Bernstein-Rein Advertising (BR), Kansas City, it’s the daily goal. In a presentation to the Social Media Club of Kansas City at the Grand St. Café, Nolan Greiter, social content strategist for BR, and Brandon Billings, digital strategy director, shared insights on their approach and success with one of their largest clients: Hostess Brands, L.L.C.
Hostess’s successful resurrection from bankruptcy came with a fresh approach to reaching a new audience. The team at BR was challenged with the rare opportunity of refreshing a brand and set of products that already have a wide recognition.
“From a strategy standpoint, we’re anchored in developing topical and sharable content that resonates with a younger aspirational audience,” Mr. Greiter said. “(Hostess) is much more interested in not letting their target age out.”
Knowing their demographic led to the decision to forgo the traditional avenues of advertising such as television and print altogether and focus on more targeted, digital advertising. A prime example was the intentionally subversive tweet issued on Major League Baseball’s opening day in 2015.
A bold image of a limited-run baseball CupCake along with the tongue-in-cheek caption “Touchdown” was one of the day’s highest trending tweets, picking up national news coverage and prompting interaction from other major brands. To be sure, not everyone was immediately in on the joke, prompting responses such as “Hostess graphic designer … YOU HAD ONE JOB.” But that only served to snowball the tweet to the top of the pile.
“It’s pretty in line with our tone overall,” Mr. Billings said. “Snarky and sarcastic a little bit without being offensive has been our underlying tone since 2013. It just caught fire for some reason.”
Twitter aside, the team at BR has put out several other pieces of targeted advertisement aimed at what they call the “Gen-X mom” and the “convenience store dude.” A series of BuzzFeed-inspired on-line videos on ways to upscale Hostess products such as HoHo Yule Logs and Valentine’s Twinkie Pops have garnered millions of views. Hostess also commissioned an interactive display at the South By Southwest (SXSW) music festival in Austin, Texas, featuring a Twinkie-shaped mechanical bull, enlisting YouTube and Vine star Megan Batoon to cover the event.
BR leveraged this year’s opening day with a similar tweet as last years’: a baseball cupcake with the caption “Hoop Dreams.” Though it didn’t get the same national attention as the “Touchdown” tweet from last year, that doesn’t stop the BR team from continuing to find creative, innovative ways to reach Hostess’ audience.“It’s go big or go home to a degree,” Mr. Billings said. “It’s a classic line, but don’t be afraid to fail. This thing could have fallen flat as can be, but had we never tried it, we would never know.”