Thursday, February 11, 2010

A1's Epic Battle Against Ketchup


I hope you've recovered from all of the storms: rain in LA, snow in the Midwest and the "snowmageddon" my East Coast friends have experienced.  I was going to step outside for a bit this morning but when I heard 5 degrees with windchill, I thought better of it and started poking around Facebook.  

Great move because I looked at (for a 2nd and 3rd time) a funny 30 second cartoon on the Kraft Foodservice Facebook page that I want to talk about.  And because you're smart, you're right to guess that the Facebook page is an accompaniment to their site.  Oh my gosh - so many things struck me about the video and the Facebook page and yet there is so little time.  Where do I start?  Here are some thoughts:

Who's David and Who's Goliath:
If you are glued to Food TV like I am, you'll pick up on the cartoon's reference to Iron Chef America: the music, the voice, the "do or die" epic battle, among other things.  If your eyeballs are elsewhere entertained, you'll be very amused at how it's an animated version of 300 or similar complete with ketchup bottle decapitations, tomato cannonballs and burger patty shields.  Very creative.

Striking and humorous images aside, this really makes me wonder about the combatants.  We have a National Brand A1 fighting no name (allegedly bland) ketchup.  In my last post, you'll recall we chatted about Private Label's encroachment into additional grocery categories.  You'll also remember the data point that PL condiment consumption is over 26% and growing. A1 is positioned as the hero (or the Robin Hood of toppings) even though it has the cache of Kraft and is a National Brand.  It is literally under siege in real life let alone in the cartoon.

I'm going to play armchair brand psychologist for a moment and say that this cartoon is more than just about the taste of A1 versus ketchup.  I think it also speaks to the realization that Private Label is here to stay regardless of economic climate, that A1 is hungry enough (pardon the pun) to fight back and that customers do deserve to understand the competitive differentiators between the products to make educated shopping choices.

Bravo to the A1 brand managers for not resting on laurels!  Brand managers may not always win but they should at least be willing to put up the fight.

Yin and Yang 
We've all either read or experienced first hand how customer communities increase brand influence and how companies are setting up these user communities as a complement to their sites.  One really good practical example is Best Buy.  It now has a user forum for information exchanges so newbies like me can have their tech mysteries decoded for them.  Even though it's a user saving the day, the halo effect is Best Buy’s with measurable impact to revenues.  Another example is e.l.f., a company that relies on their users and community to generate and maintain buzz.  You can read more about them and Ted Rubin, CMO, here.  

So what's the yin and yang?  I love the blend of formal and informal.  The Kraft Foodservice site is friendly and functional but formal because it's only a one way conversation.  There's great content but no way for the customer, or in this case chefs, to interact.  The intent of the Facebook page is to have meaningful and sometimes whimsical dialogue with the customer but also to encourage and learn from the customer to customer dialogue similar to what Best Buy has done.  

The page is new; there are 531 fans so the dialogue hasn't extended between fans as much but it will over time.  I think the remedy will be the continued posting of content like that so people will open up more even if to say "How funny!"  The other benefit to posting video or other striking content is the viral nature of the medium (the videos of David the rapping flight attendant have been seen thousands of times).  If they want buzz, interest and followers, they should continue making a splash.  The other remedy might be that they consider have a user community on the Foodservice site (like this) and use Facebook as a third touchpoint.  There may be one on the site but I couldn't find it.  If not, perhaps it’s in process.

What’s your take on the cartoon or what I’ve brought to the table today?  Send me your Two Cents.


Parissa Behnia

p.s. To learn more about customer communities and best practices, I would go to the Lithium Technologies site and their blog.  They are the ones who hooked Best Buy up.

1 comment:

  1. Parissa:

    Multiple touch points will be key for any brand moving forward, what I title the Marketing Wheel of Fortune:

    Jim Matorin