The Genius Marketing Idea That Put Maxwell House On Every Passover Table
If you’ll be attending a Passover Seder this year, chances are you’ll be reading from the Maxwell House Haggadah—which is the perfect example of how to do branded content right.
Over 90 years ago, American Jews celebrated the Passover holiday by eating matzo and unleavened treats, but when they reached for a beverage they shunned coffee in favor of tea. It seems there wasn’t a coffee brand certified kosher for Passover. In 1923, Maxwell House saw an opportunity and introduced the first kosher for Passover coffee; others soon followed. Looking to solidify the brand in the minds of Jewish consumers in the early 1930s, Maxwell House’s ad agency employed an innovative marketing tactic for the time: branded content.
Well, that’s what we call it today. In fact, Maxwell House decided to publish a book, specifically a Haggadah, and offer it to customers for free with the purchase of a can of coffee. (A Haggadah recounts the Exodus from Egypt, comprised of prayers, songs, and stories which guide the Passover Seder.) The Maxwell House edition was an instant hit. Today, it’s the most popular Haggadah in the world, with over 50 million printed.
Laughter is social bonding communication. It’s like saying, “I like you” or “I want you to like me.” Evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar says that belly laughing may have worked like “grooming at a distance” for early ancestors, allowing them to maintain bonds within larger groups, which explains why humor in ads can bond people to brands. Laughter is an innate, cross-cultural response triggered unconsciously, which is why it is hard to fake or control. Shared laughter synchronizes our brains in emotional attunement, the hallmark of successful communication, releasing oxytocin and tension, firing our trust circuits.
This approach felt authentic and compelling only because the brand had earned the right. VW had a storied legacy to “think small,” not boast big; not through sales talk, but by speaking human. And they attained massive sales growth back then as well as today. That’s in part because they recognized that our purpose as people is to lead better lives, not to consume their products.
This fascinating project, brought to us by Ewan Yap, explores how “less is more” within big consumer brands. Ewan created a series of experimental packaging design based on the principle of ‘Big Brand Theory‘. The main focus is to have each brand’s identity meticulously and uniquely cropped out of the packaging as much as possible, yet maintaining it’s integrity and comprehension and, at the same time, enhancing the aesthetic value.
Social media has ushered in a new reality for marketers looking to play in the big game, and it’s allowing brands to create deeper narratives, engage fans earlier on and create greater buzz by releasing teasers and assets online before the event. It’s also sparked a debate over the merits of releasing bits of creative in advance: is this the future of Super Bowl advertising or a tactic that ruins the surprise element of TV’s (and adland’s) biggest night?
1. Because it creates (even more) buzz.
“This is the one time of the year when people want to hear from a marketer. And they’ve made it abundantly clear they want it sooner,” he says. “Why wait for a USA Today poll to tell you you’ve won when tens of millions of YouTube viewers, bloggers, tweeters, journalists and dear aunties on Facebook can say it for you—days before kickoff?”
2. Because it builds social currency.
“By engaging with and rewarding them first, we’re providing [fans] with the chance to build their social currency by being in the know and sharing the teaser and ad with their friends,” says Taco Bell’s Chief Marketing & Innovation Officer, Brian Niccol. “Prereleasing only amplifies what we are doing.”
3. Because it allows for deeper storytelling.
"We don’t set out to make a Super Bowl ad, we set out to tell a great story. We probably look at 50 different ideas for a Super Bowl spot. The criteria we use is, what’s the most original, and what’s the most shareable? Too often advertisers get carried away with crazy spends and production overkill, where simple storytelling often wins the day." -
CEO of Deutsch LA, Mike Sheldon @ 12:33 PM in the Fast Company live chat.
4. Because it works.
A recent whitepaper from online video tracking company Unruly Media titled Unruly’s Social Video Advertising Playbook suggests that taking advantage of the lead-up to the big game yield big results. The report found that for Super Bowl XLVI in 2012, 75% of the top 20 most shared ads were launched before Super Bowl Sunday, and the year’s top four most shared ads were all preceded by teasers.
Superbowl Sunday is here and the competition is tight, who will win the advertising battle royal?
Join Fast Company’s live interactive chat with experts- Loren Angelo, GM of Brand Marketing at Audi of America; Mike Sheldon, CEO of Deutsch LA; and Co.Create editor Teressa Iezzi, as they discuss Super Bowl marketing strategy with readers.
“Within Twitter what we did was expand on that. We started assigning fans different roles within this virtual world. We have district mayors and district recruiters, which really got them active and sharing over Facebook and Twitter. I mean, that’s what Facebook and Twitter are—it’s like your way of identifying who you are and sharing that with your friends. So, by giving them an occupation within their district, we gave them an identity.”
“"The Lorax waved and doled out hugs. The kids serenaded him with a song. And then everyone was ushered outside to see two cars up close—a Mazda 3 sedan and a CX-5 sports utility vehicle, both specially painted with Lorax scenes and both with what Mazda has termed “Truffula Tree-approved SKYACTIV® TECHNOLOGY."”
“Is it possible to brand an entire country for less than $200,000? Or, for less than $2,000, can you brand a person so successfully that they create headlines worldwide? Here are three cases of successful, yet cheap marketing stunts.”