Hey, Friend, It's Your Brand Calling

We can talk about friends.  We can talk about brands.  

Let’s talk about brands that are your friend.

Your relationships have evolved.  You have more digital friends than people you get together with — by a long shot.  

And you start digital conversations whether you mean to or not.  It’s a new era of permission, and it comes with a feel-good moment.  It could be a smile, a joke, some sentiment that you believe is real – but ultimately, you’re engaging.  Admit it.

Most people check their smartphone a minimum of 150 times a day and find basic entertainment that fills that dopamine moment there. A recent INC magazine article reaffirms that everyone craves micro moments of assurance they labeled a dopamine epidemic.  And it started somewhere around 2007.

Yet, for brands, starting a conversation is daunting — and only 8% of consumers told us they have communicated with their favorite brand.



Doing research for an upcoming book, “Join The Brand,” I revisited an HBR study that articulates the evolution of what brands stand for — beginning with a mark. Think branding irons. From there, brands became a singular idea, then an experience, a relationship, a friend — and finally, a fun friend.

So it’s always a pleasant surprise when we see brands going above and beyond to cross the line to real conversations just like you’d have with friends.

Searching for case studies to include, I found a shining star in Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and interviewed Eduardo Luz, president of grocery for Kraft Heinz.

I was fascinated by the way the Macaroni & Cheese brand moved right into everyday conversation with its “Swear Like A Mother”  campaign.  

The overall concept was based on a great conversation starter: a book by Melissa Mohr, "Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing." Kraft jumped on board and asked moms to take a survey to see how much they swear in front of their children.  Ultimately, the brand hosted a celebration of all of the hard work that mothers do and launched the campaign on Mother’s Day, 2017.

When I asked Luz how the idea evolved, he said strategists spent “significant time articulating the brand’s purpose and human truths.” Then, when deciding how to execute, they chose to avoid traditional media like TV, because the brand was not seeing “real engagement on one-way channels.”

Instead Kraft opted for social because it had the ability to “bring to life something that would be real, funny and could spark engagement and conversation.” And considering that the original video is still generating conversation over a year and half later, it was the right call.

The results were insanely successful — with 4.5 million views, 70 million impressions and nearly 800,000 engagements.  Even better, the investment, according to Luz, was “not huge — as we basically produced the video and used minimal paid on social to get it started.”

What I love about this program is that it was the kind of conversation that gets forwarded. And it looks a lot like what your friends would send you.

3 comments about "Hey, Friend, It's Your Brand Calling".
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  1. Jonathan Hutter from Northern Light Health, August 13, 2018 at 3:03 p.m.

    If you believe Kraft Macaroni & Cheese is your friend, you need to put down the device, step away, and talk to real people. You know what's insanely successful to Kraft? Getting you to buy more product. All those views, impressions and engagements don't mean anything to them unless they translate into sales. Did they?

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, August 13, 2018 at 3:51 p.m.

    Your fbeast friend is not your friend. You need help. If you think an inanimate object is your friend, you need a lot of help. Please get it before more people get hurt.

  3. Lindsay Marsden from Apiary + Co., August 16, 2018 at 1:39 p.m.

    Jeez. I don't think Cohen is suggesting Moms abandon their real life friends or saying sales don't matter. Pretty sure Kraft isn't suddenly on everyone's Christmas card list now either. However, millions of Moms and kids eat Kraft Mac & Cheese on the regular. As a Mom myself, I appreciate the campaign's humor and can relate to it. It's funny. The blue box is a staple at many homes and this nod to an honest Mom-moment is appreciated. Successful brand marketing is as much about driving sales as it is about building an attachment and fondness to the product/service. Engagement is key and "Swear Like a Mother" clearly succeeded in creating these favorable two-way conversations--IRL and online. 

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