Villing & Company

Transparency with a Purpose: Solid Marketing Tactics at Root of Miracle Whip's 'Love/Hate' Campaign

It's no secret that that 'transparency' has become the cornerstone for the PR profession as social media has forever changed the rules for corporate America in dealing with crisis situations and unfavorable customer feedback. Just ask the major airlines how important it is to quickly, honestly and appropriately deal with critical comments via Twitter and Facebook. They seem to have their hands full on a daily basis, calming the social media masses after losing luggage or improperly charging passengers.

But what about full transparency being the driving force behind a corporate-generated marketing campaign? What happens when a company seeks and embraces negative feedback just as much as positive reinforcement from consumers?

That's exactly what Miracle Whip is doing with its "Love Us" and "Hate Us" counter on its YouTube page.  In an effort to revive an eroding brand, Miracle Whip launched the counter earlier this year to encourage people to pick a side in what they've found to be a very polarizing topic – the taste of Miracle Whip. "Rather than deny this truth, it's something that we needed to embrace," said Sara Braun, marketing director of Miracle Whip in a recent feature.

Now, you may recall that a colleague here at Villing & Company, Brad Rosier, panned this strategy back in March right after the launch of the campaign. Brad makes many solid arguments that the approach, to him, doesn't pass the smell test. I know what he's talking about. And, indeed, to many, this campaign many come off as trying too hard to be edgy and controversial, as Brad suggests.

However, while not immune to criticism, I do think this recent campaign was solid from many marketing perspectives:

  1. Reaching a younger demographic – Miracle Whip realized that today's youth, which they covet, respond positively to transparency – so why relegate it to reactive PR situations? Create it yourself, step back  ... and spread the word. Sure, some may reject this attempt to reach them solely because it is a corporate-based marketing campaign. But I believe many others will not be as cynical and embrace their openness.
  2. Creating a buzz – Given their reported declining sales over the last decade, the brand had little to lose by stirring the pot a little. Creating an outlet for those passionate about their condiments, while somewhat risky, has a tremendous upside for Miracle Whip. Remember, we're talking about a sauce that masquerades as mayonnaise. This is not an airline, hospital or financial institution – where much more is at stake for people who have bad experiences. Kudos to Miracle Whip for realizing this, creating an interesting hook, and allowing people to have some fun with their brand.
  3. Opportunity to expose people to the product – On the YouTube page, people can also sign up to request a free sample of Miracle Whip. According to Braun, over 336,000 had been dispersed through roughly mid-June. While providing free samples is a concept as old as time and simple to execute, it is nevertheless a great way to engage potential customers long-term while putting the product directly in the hands of those who many not have even known the product existed.

Again, it's easier for Miracle Whip to make this leap than, say, Delta Airlines - where a bad experience could potentially set someone back hundreds of dollars, not $3.50. But credit Miracle Whip for at least understanding that, for them, transparency doesn't need to be reserved to fighting fires on the PR front and can, given the right situation, also be an opportunity to grow the brand and spur sales.

Filed Under: creative

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