With Labor Day, football and cool nights approaching, thoughts turn to one last weekend at the beach.
“Ah, the beach,” as the Seinfeld gang said wistfully from their diner booth. The place where we go to unwind and court deep thinking while pondering the mysteries of our lives.
And just in time for the end of beach season, Kentucky Fried Chicken introduced a new chicken-scented sunscreen this week.
That don’t make no sense, as Pete said in “O’ Brother Where Art Thou.” (Forewarning: this blog will be filled with as many pop culture references as possible.)
I laughed at the ludicrousness of this product with Managing Editor Susan Rupe. I posted it on Facebook to revel in the frivolity with friends.
Then I realized I’d been had. The marketing geniuses at KFC were leveraging crowdsource marketing to maximize publicity. (FYI, if you’re reading for an insurance tie-in, be patient, it’s coming)
Do they have a new product? Of course, they have a new product! KFC is set to spring a new crispy chicken sandwich on the public.
In a bid to get as many crispy chicken sandwiches in as many hands as possible, its marketing team had a couple options. They could take the traditional route, with a campaign centered around a few clever commercials.
Or the chicken giant could try a daring alternative: spend those dollars creating a goofy product and let the media (social and traditional) do the work.
So how is their gambit paying off? Handsomely, it seems. As of this writing, virtually every news outlet in the country is running this story, from Time and AdWeek to Entertainment Weekly and USA Today.
As Kenny Bania once said, “That’s gold, Jerry!” (OK, that’s the last Seinfeld reference for this week.)
To be sure, KFC left no doubt about its wink-wink “sunscreen.” After all, the company hired the comically orangish George Hamilton as its spokesman.
"KFC Extra Crispy Sunscreen is not a food product. NOT a food product,” labeling reads. “Do not eat this product. Even though this product smells delicious, it is not delicious.”
KFC is obviously having a lot of fun with this. And if there’s one place where people know how to have fun, it’s the Twitterverse:
— Will Ganss (@willganss) August 22, 2016
— Megan (@meganlibrarian) August 23, 2016
So what’s the lesson for insurance? Answer: all of it.
I’ve read reports by Ernst & Young, and seen presentations across the country by marketing consultants Mindset Digital. And one theme is constant – insurance and financial services as a group are too timid with marketing to social media.
For sure, there’s a downside. You can’t quantify with any certainty the return on a fun social media campaign. Twitter can be a fickle dance partner when your marketing budget is relying on a trending hashtag.
And insurance/financial companies are notorious for conservative compliance departments that shy away from anything too bold.
But look at the success Esurance had with its sardonic “election insurance” effort, spoofing the idea that people will move to Canada (or elsewhere) if a certain candidate is elected. The two-minute parody commercial has been viewed more than 190,000 times on YouTube, with 1,223 “likes” to 25 “dislikes.” That’s a pretty good ratio.
The video places Esurance in a very unfamiliar role for the industry – as a company with a sense of humor. That can be the difference between a sale and a pass.
After all, insurance is sold, not bought.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Editor John Hilton has covered business and other beats in more than 20 years of daily journalism. John may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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