Archive for April, 2012

How to Make an Old Brand New? Mike and Ike Tries Splitting Up

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2012 by innovativemediapr

When you have been around on store shelves for 72 years it’s not easy connecting with a new audience but that’s what Just Born, the makers of the flavored candy, Mike and Ike is trying. In order to introduce their candy to teenagers, Just Born is breaking up the fictional characters, and in doing so, giving them each an identity.  This is all part of a $15 million ad campaign this year, which will include an animated billboard in Times Square, commercials and a heavy social media presence.

Mike and Ike have never been revealed as individuals.  For the first two decades, just the names appeared on the box. Then in the 1960’s and 70’s two mustachioed men appeared on the packaging. The candy box currently carries images of colorful fruit.  Just Born is not sure how the origin of the name came about, speculating that it was based on characters from a vaudeville act, a popular song or an internal naming contest.

The campaign kicked off earlier this month with the launch of new packaging that has logos with the names Mike or Ike crossed off, as if someone scribbled it out and directed people to check the brand’s Facebook page where characters Mike and Ike discuss their grievances.

Ike faults Mike for spending too much time on his music while Mike disses his long-time partner for spending too much time on his graffiti art.

The campaign is the brainchild of Elevator Group of Massachusetts.

Last year, Mike and Ike had $33.1 in revenues for the year ending February 19, which was up 2.2% according to a recent New York Times story.  The $15 million ad campaign is a significant increase over the $125,000 budget last year.

Elevator Group has developed a program targeted to teens that includes getting celebrities, like NBA player Lamar Odom and Greyson Chance, a 14-year-old singer, to post YouTube videos, commenting on the breakup. You can watch the videos on the Facebook page . Meanwhile, Mike and Ike will blog on Tumblr airing their grievances and kids will be able to send in their own videos commenting on the split.

A year from now, based on the public’s response, we will know for sure if the break up is forever or if the characters will be reconciled. We’ll also know if the campaign succeeded in doubling sales by reaching the coveted teen market.

Using YouTube videos with prize incentives connected to the Facebook campaign and having the characters blog is an interesting tactic. However, will it resonate with the teen demographic?

Already, a Huffington Post food blog labled the campaign a gay divorce. This sparked a ton of chatter on the subject and earlier this week, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, blasted Just Born for turning Mike and Ike gay and sexualizing candy.  Which direction will this message take?

Last week, I had my Publicity Methods class at Rider University evaluate the campaign.  The class liked the concept but overwhelmingly thought that the elements of the campaign would not generate enough interest from a teen audience. They also felt the campaign, although geared to teens, had conflicting messages and still was adult-centric.

What I wondered and what the class posed, was what research was Elevator Marketing basing its campaign on?  Without detailed knowledge of the data, the class did come up with the following suggestions for reaching the teen audience:

–        Movie trailers – instead of billboards, why not create a movie trailer commercial that would be shown at theaters across the country, with the targeted teen audience in their seats and able to purchase Mike and Ike at the candy counter.

–        Mike and Ike Street Teams – get groups of kids to side with each character and make appearances at malls, events and areas where teens go

–        Mike and Ike Tee Shirt Brigade – make up shirts for fans of Mike and Ike and hand them out to kids.

–        Mike and Ike Tour – hold rallies for Mike and/or Ike fans to gather. Mike Tour stops would feature local musicians and Ike tour stops would feature young artists. Each group would be staging their event in support of their respective character.

–        Celebrity Ambassadors – get celebrities to take a stand, coming out in favor of Mike or Ike. Youth-oriented advocates would be preferable.

–        Best break up lines – It’s not you, but me…run a national contest

My great addition to the marketing mix was to do a national search for Mike and Ike and give two teens, one a musician and the other an artist the chance to be on the candy box as the animated characters a year from now.

While these ideas germinated from a classroom discussion, the conversation proved that the campaign was already effective in causing a buzz. People are talking about Mike and Ike. If the right audience does, than Elevator Group and Just Born would have proven that an old brand can become new.

Tom Cosentino