Sara Lee Social Campaign Fails to Impress

  |  September 21, 2009   |  Comments

Brand promotes lunch meats on social sites, but is criticized for going only halfway.

Sara Lee Deli launched a social media campaign last week to promote its pre-sliced deli meats to harried moms. The effort includes video content from Second City, Facebook and Twitter pages, and posts written by mom bloggers. But analysts and online users criticized the effort as lacking originality, highlighting the risks associated with getting social marketing wrong.

The "Mama Saga" campaign, created in house without an agency, is a first for the products, introduced in 2007. Its sole marketing effort to date has been newspaper free-standing inserts.

"It's the first time we've gone out in a national way to engage with consumers one on one," said Becky Thomas, Sara Lee Deli's assistant brand manager.

The starting point is a group of three two-minute videos starring actress moms who spew forth about their hectic lives. "We were looking for a way to reach moms and reflect the reality of their lives and play back to them," said Tom Yorton, president and CEO of Second City Communications. "It's a fun and interesting way to get them interested in Sara Lee Deli and drive them to the Facebook page." In one of the videos, a mom makes sandwiches with the Sara Lee Deli meats. In another, she snacks on them. The videos appear on Facebook, Metacafe, YouTube, Dailymotion, and Break.com.

The Facebook page is the central element of the campaign, providing everything from product info and coupons to photos, polls and recipes. A discussion tab allows visitors to post comments. There's also a link to the Twitter page. Six blogs, including This Full House and Feels Like Home, are promoting the campaign on their sites, with posts that include recipes and links to the Facebook page.

However, the videos received low ratings at Metacafe (2.44, 2.51 and 2.73 out of 5), which prompted Nate Elliott, a Forrester Research analyst, to criticize them. He also said the videos appear on video sharing sites but don't provide opportunities for moms to contribute their own videos. "The company is using social tools in a very advertising 1.0 way," he said.

Debra Aho Williamson, an eMarketer analyst, had a more personal critique. "I'm a mom and I didn't see the point... I commend them for stepping up, but it has to be something the consumer wants to interact with on a regular basis. It looks like moms won't spend more than a few minutes and move on because they have limited time."

Sara Lee Deli will judge the campaign on a series of metrics it's preparing, from Facebook activity to video views. "It's still in the early stages, but we're keeping an eye on it as it starts to build," Thomas said.

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