There are many reasons I’d make a horrible brand manager, among them my ferocious, blinding personal brand loyalty, an inclination to ignore contributions from people who don’t sound or look exactly like me, and disdain for the research nerds who’d advise me to heed their stupid fat research and not go with my gut, which is much smarter than their dumb focus groups. But one of the biggest is that I’d insist, to the point of distraction, that my minions absolutely friggin’ OWN Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving rules. Everyone knows this. It’s the Thanksgiving of holidays. Its existence is premised on nutritional and footballian mirth. It’s the one day of the year where adult naps are permissible, if not encouraged. Turkey. Pie. Reheated turkey and pie a few hours later. What’s not to like? If you’ve got a problem with Thanksgiving, I’ve got a problem with you.
As a brand director, then, I would marshal all my resources around Thanksgiving. Brand loyalties can’t be forged or cemented in or around a holiday without much of a specific retail bent, you say? Hogwash! Betsy, withdraw our entire year’s marketing budget from the bank. Small bills only. There are yams that need to be candied.
I know I’m not alone in my unrepentant Thanksgiving-philia. And yet when I did my frantic pre-deadline search for something remotely interesting to write about, I found that pretty much every brand of note is sitting Thanksgiving out - in essence, relegating it to the same pay-no-mind category as daybook effluvia like Arbor Day and the Feast of the Immaculate Reception. So thank you, Stove Top, for according this most wonderful and diabetes-inducing occasion the respect it deserves.
Of course, Thanksgiving is more or less Stove Top’s Super Bowl. As the top brand name in the stuffing game, Stove Top should be all over Thanksgiving, not unlike a mess of so so so delicious cranberry over a wedge of white-meat turkey. But while I agree with the Surgeon General that, as a society, we don’t eat anywhere near as much stuffing as we should, let’s face it: Stuffing is a one-day-a-year pursuit for most people.
That’s why Stove Top should’ve gone deeper with what appears to be its first-ever brand video campaign. The four clips that comprise it are great fun. In one, a deadpan-dry modern day “pilgrim” composes a new Stove Top jingle; in another, the same pilgrim waxes philosophic on the folly of a Thanksgiving without Stove Top stuffing. The tone is note-perfect; whoever cast the pilgrim, so perfectly wry and dismissive of those who’d deny Stove Top’s myriad charms, deserves myriad helpings of the saltiest and least congealed gravies.
I just wonder why, given that Stove Top has only a single natural opportunity to flex its brand muscles every year, it would’ve stopped there. “Cute and cheap” may be an easy path to virality in this overthink-everything era, and I imagine Stove Top will net a few thousand extra views at the tables of families who aren’t as militantly anti-screen during meals as mine. But the clips aren’t tied into anything bigger - there’s no overarching campaign, nothing in the mobile space, etc.
I wish there were more. I wish we’d get the opportunity to see the Pilgrim in tomorrow’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I wish there were an “Ask the Pilgrim” offshoot of some kind. Why not name the guy? Really.
Stove Top happened upon a great character - not to mention one who’s generationally removed from the brand’s sleepy, grandparent image - and didn’t give him enough to do. In Thanksgiving-meal terms, that’s like not bothering to furnish a rich assortment of artery-impeding desserts. Color this an opportunity not entirely fulfilled.