As a person who writes things for the Internet and mostly receives feedback via email, I've become a raging paranoiac about incoming communications. I will not click on an emailed link unless the sender has completed the sort of verification protocol usually required of State Department appointees. Sorry, mom - I have no way of knowing that the Snapfish link to pix from Cousin Ruthie's senior-obics pageant isn't spoofed. Rules are rules.
And yet the other night, when I received an email from "ChewySuperstar@pepsico.com," all that caution went out the window. The missive notified me that I had received "a customized message featuring Nick Jonas and Quaker Chewy Granola Bars." It featured a photo of Jonas with "Follow Your Dream! [Heart-shaped doodle subdivided via horizontal line for reasons I don't understand], Nick" scrawled on it, as if to affirm its veracity and purity of purpose. I was no more able to resist clicking on the accompanying link than I was to wonder why Quaker Oats would taint delicious chocolate via association with colon-voiding granola.
Thus click I did, and was magically whisked away to a video message in which Jonas reminded me that I am "awesome," that I "should feel so proud about [my] accomplishment" and that I should "keep it up and remember to always do [my] best. I know you will." I ignored the troubling questions to which this clip gave rise - Keep what up? What accomplishment? Have we lowered the bar so far that successfully self-transporting from an email to a canned video communiqué counts as accomplishment? - and pressed forward into the non-nougat-y core of the campaign.
Turns out that Quaker Chewy has been conducting a Jonas-endorsed online talent contest - "Quaker Chewy Superstar" - for the last little while. Aspiring singers were invited to submit videos of themselves doing singer-like things, such as singing, with the winner receiving cash and a no-promises management deal. The winner would also get to record a song produced by Nick Jonas and headline its video.
Stunningly, given the type of wry, impenetrable nonconformist who usually wins competitions of this ilk, America voted for Gabrielle Giguere, a well-scrubbed teen with some but not too much ethnicity to her look. She sings capably enough and the song, "My Time," features the requisite lyrics about empowerment and love that is truer than the stars and heavens combined. While she may erroneously assert that "It's my turn to find someone to love" - the line still forms behind Jennifer Aniston - she doesn't seem too broken up about her current state of unattachment. You can print the lyrics out; I'm thankful for the helpful "verse," "chorus" and "bridge" signifiers and applaud the bold capitalization ("Spark the Flame/Things aren't the same Yea/It's my time").
In the video, Giguere cavorts with street performers - wholesome, balloon-animal-making ones, not light-on-their-feet hobos - and does serious-artist things, like don a pair of chunky headphones while recording in the studio. If everything breaks just right for her, she could have a career that spans the next 18 months.
I still don't get the connection between half-healthy treats and warbling lads/lassies. There's no Quaker Chewy product placement and Giguere doesn't look like she's ever inhaled anything more caloric than skim milk. The campaign attempts to forge a connection by linking the would-be superstar chosen by America to the "superstar of snacks"… though I bet skinned baby carrots would have something to say about that. Are they on Twitter? Because Quaker Chewy is and will tweet-banter with anyone and about anything, whether the weather, tweeny-book recommendations or suggestive-if-taken-way-the-hell-out-of-context bits about "go-to flavor."
Somebody gets paid for that. I love the social-media era.