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Boys cook too

Published Mar 24, 2015 – By Andrew Strange, Content Director


As content becomes more digitally driven, it’s vital that agencies stay on top of social media trends. If there’s one thing we’ve learned from our own use of these platforms, it’s that, amid all the ‘noise’, there are valuable insights that can come from unexpected quarters. And it seems that we’re not the only ones to come to this conclusion.

The history of social media is littered with examples of how ordinary people have taken on big organisations and won. But the people who tackle companies online may not simply be busting for a fight – often they have real insight and companies ignore them at their peril.

Take 13-year-old McKenna Pope from New Jersey, for example. Cooking is increasingly popular with young boys, partly due to the popularity of chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. But when McKenna tried to buy a child’s Easy Bake oven for her younger brother, she found that all the boxes were pink with pictures of girls on them.

A very disgruntled McKenna launched an online petition that attracted support from 40,000 people. Toy maker Hasbro hurriedly introduced a black and silver version of the oven – it was an obvious insight that their own research had failed to identify because the ovens were selling just fine to girls.

Kraft Foods was guilty of a similar oversight when it launched its new Vegemite and cream cheese blend in Australia. It ran a competition to name the product and settled on iSnack 2.0. While it’s a name that might have gone down well with a technology-focussed US audience, in down-to-earth Australia it hit a sour note.

The name was ditched after three days, following a social media storm in which iSnack 2.0 was branded ‘the worst name ever’ and ‘un-Australian’. It was even suggested that the competition winner should be forced to run down the main street of Sydney “wearing nothing but a generous lathering of old-fashioned Vegemite as retribution for his cultural crime.” The snack was re-named Cheesybite.

What these examples tell us is that, within a social media campaign involving posting, tweeting, managing issues and crisis mitigation, companies would do well to include ‘listening’ as an important plank of their strategies.

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