Kraft Foods' playful Twitter campaign, "Mac & Jinx," helped push the phrase "Mac & Cheese" among the micro-blogging site's trending topics on Tuesday. People who clicked on the topic, though, were taken to a page with a Promoted Tweet that advertised an unflattering article about the multinational brand.
Purchased by the foodie site FriendsEat.com since March 4, the Promoted Tweet reads: "Kraft Confesses: 'We Use Genetically Engineered Bovine Growth Hormone'. #food http://bit.ly/flUYDt". The ad is also being served to people who search "mac and cheese" on Twitter. It links to a blog post that cites a report by Organic Consumers Association about Kraft's dairy-based products allegedly coming from cows that have been treated with the hormone.
In an e-mail to ClickZ, Noelle O'Mara, brand manager for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, appeared to chalk up the unusual marketing situation to the nature of social media.
"We certainly recognize that Twitter is a forum for everyone to share their point of view," she said. "And for those consumers interested in organic products, KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese does offer an Organic variety in Cheddar and White Cheddar."
Furthermore, nearly all responses underneath the Promoted Tweet were positive towards the Kraft brand. At the same time, there were a few noisome reactions to the FriendsEat.com article. For instance: "Bovine Growth Hormones in Mac and Cheese, extract of Bull Semen, wondered what those lumps were. What's next??? No meat in Taco Bell tacos?"
David Vap, chief solutions officer for CRM company RightNow, researched the situation for ClickZ and said that almost 900 people had re-tweeted the FriendsEat.com Promoted Tweet. "[It] is an example of 'brand-jacking' on a small scale, with the potential to explode into a larger global debate," he said. "It’s possible many more consumers will retweet the critical comment, go to the FriendsEat.com site for more details, and otherwise weigh in during the next 24 hours."
FriendsEat.com Gets 500 People Logging On Per Second
Blanca Valbuena, editor and co-founder of FriendsEat.com, told ClickZ on Tuesday that her foodie site has been fortunate to be the most relevant Promoted Tweet on Twitter's algorithmic ad-serving platform for "mac and cheese" results. Hollywood actresses Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs re-tweeted the growth hormones article last weekend, Valbuena said, and that attention in congress with Kraft's own "Mac & Jinx" viral has led to snowballing page views.
"I think that's what's kicked off the whole insanity with Kraft," she said, adding that her five-year-old site's server had gone down a few times. "We've had 500 people on our site per second since noon today. We just got lucky…I think it's good that people can make educated decisions. It just so happened that the timing was right [with Kraft]."
Kraft has been running the "Mac & Jinx" effort since Feb. 23. With a nod to the childhood "Jinx" game, whenever two people simultaneously tweet "mac and cheese", they get a link for the contest. The first one to click the link and submit a home address wins five free boxes of Kraft’s macaroni and cheese product and a commemorative T-shirt.
O'Mara from Kraft said: "Our team is continually monitoring the Twittersphere and as soon as we see consumers tweet about mac & cheese, we then work to bring together the fans who have shared their love for the brand within minutes of each other…. Now, adults thinking and tweeting about mac & cheese will see that other adults are thinking and tweeting about mac & cheese, and hopefully give themselves permission to admit they love KRAFT Macaroni & Cheese…again."
Crispin Porter + Bogusky developed the campaign. The Boulder, CO-based agency has been no stranger to interesting social media occurrences lately, as it was chiefly responsible for Groupon's controversial Super Bowl spots last month.
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
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