As Fat Tuesday approaches, New Orleans-based Zatarain's is plumping up its digital and social media marketing efforts. Mardi Gras is a big deal for the big easy food brand, and it's using Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, and a "Krewe" of bloggers to help revelers get in the spirit this all-important weekend.
Blogger Kristen wrote about her trip to the storied city recently on her Dine and Dish blog, and features a "Zatarains Krewe Member" image on the site, where she writes about food and her family. "In New Orleans with Zatarain's to get completely immersed in the culture of their great company and the city," she noted on February 10, linking to the brand's Mardi Gras page on Facebook.
The company invited five influential mom, dad, and food bloggers to New Orleans this past weekend to meet with Zatarain's staff and learn about and eat local dishes, tour restaurants, and try the brand's products. It's the start of a year-long initiative which the brand hopes will lead to lots of digital content about its rice mixes, sauces and seasonings. The blogging brand ambassadors used the #JazzItUpNOLA hashtag when posting tweets and photos while on their New Orleans escapade.
Promoted Tweets have been running this month to push people to recipes including dirty rice and king cake cupcakes from the brand's official chef, John Besh.
"Social media is an important channel for our brand, and we fully embrace the robust opportunities available in that space," said Michael Morse, general manager of Zatarain's."
On Facebook, anyone can assemble a Krewe - the term usually given to people who arrange the city's elaborate parades and balls during the pre-lenten celebration. A Facebook app allows people to invite four of their "most spirited Facebook friends," and name their Krewes, which are made official by Jazzman, King of the Carnival. A more utilitarian feature, people can also download coupons through the app.
If they're actually getting together in person, the Krewe members can listen to the Zatarain's Big Easy Mix channel on Pandora - a collection of blues, jazz, and zydeco.
Some people got started on their Mardi Gras partying early: "im hosting a zatarain's houseparty 4 the oscars. love them! #JazzItUpNOLA" wrote @sthrnfairytale on Twitter. The brand is also requesting that this weekend's merrymakers use the #zatarainsparty hashtag and post comments about the experience to the company's Facebook wall.
The house parties have been fueled by HouseParty.com, a site that enables brands to get their products into people's homes through sponsored shindigs. A long list of house party participants posted earlier this month about the Zatarain's goodies they received for their parties, which are expected to be held this weekend. "Thank you Zatarain's and House Party for choosing me! I will make you proud!!" wrote Kellie G. on the House Party site, which helped Zatarain's select 2,000 party hosts.The company supplied hosts with beads and Zatarain's products.
Not everyone planning a party was pleased with the Zatarain's supplies, however. One host wrote, "not sure how I am going to feed 14 people on two rice packs? what are you going to serve or ask people to bring? Little skimpy compared to the thai party...."
However, the House Party partnership appears to be spreading the brand name online, which is an obvious goal. The influencer Krewe who run blogs including The Busy Dad Blog and Southern Fairytale have only just begun their Zatarain's related postings. The company will work with them throughout the year and involve them in several upcoming initiatives including a frozen food program and a gluten free program.
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Kate Kaye was Managing Editor at ClickZ News until October 2012. As a daily reporter and editor for the original news source, she covered beats including digital political campaigns and government regulation of the online ad industry. Kate is the author of Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media, the only book focused on the paid digital media efforts of the 2008 presidential campaigns. Kate created ClickZ's Politics & Advocacy section, and is the primary contributor to the one-of-a-kind section. She began reporting on the interactive ad industry in 1999 and has spoken at several events and in interviews for television, radio, print, and digital media outlets. You can follow Kate on Twitter at @LowbrowKate.
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