Commentary

Parkay Could Have Used Social Media To, Well, Pass The Parkay

Maybe I've been focusing on this social media thing for too long, because lately I seem to look for a social media aspect to every ad campaign I read about.

And so it was, yesterday morning, that I came across a story in  Marketing Daily about the resurrection of the famed "Talking Tub" campaign for Parkay. You know -- the commercials where the tub of margarine actually talks, with the rim of its lid acting as the upper lip? Hope I'm not dating myself.

The good news -- for ad nostalgia enthusiasts -- is that the campaign is back. The bad news, is that, from what I can tell, the brand missed one of the most obvious, and admittedly silly, social media opportunities since the first spoof commercial was uploaded to YouTube. As I read the story, I kept hunting for the social media angle... and it wasn't there.

Think about it. Talking tub ... trend toward sharing of funny commercials ... consumer-generated personalization of commercials ... why not have a social media effort in which people can insert their own audio message into the talking tub and share it with friends? Was such an obvious idea shouted down by the client? Or is the idea of giving every campaign a social media hook still too new for most major marketers?

I suspect the latter. So let me use this platform to say to clients that there's little downside to putting some major or minor social media spin into every campaign, even if it's a simple upload of the commercial to YouTube, just to see what happens. Every client knows it's a fragmented media world where marketing messages get lost in the increasingly deep shuffle. Social media provides an opportunity to achieve free distribution of your marketing message because consumers liked it, instead of consumers being forced into seeing your message for the usual reason: they didn't get to switch the channel fast enough once the commercial pod containing your message came on.

At the risk of getting way too speculative, I can only imagine that if someone at the agency (the Marketing Daily story didn't say who the agency was), were to discuss the possibility of consumers putting their own words into talking tubs and sharing them with friends, the client would reply that such an idea was off-brand. Even if that discussion didn't happen here, we all know it happens with brands every single day. To that, the only reply is that no message is off-brand, if it comes from an engaged consumer.

With this highly speculative column, I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving. Oh, and, pass the Parkay.



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8 comments about "Parkay Could Have Used Social Media To, Well, Pass The Parkay ".
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  1. Jim Risner from Votigo, Inc., November 26, 2008 at 1:57 p.m.

    Great post. We're definitely seeing more and more major brands integrating social media, specifically consumer-generated content, into their campaigns. Some recent examples are this art competition for Sharpie (http://sharpie.votigo.com) which encourages consumers to show the different ways Sharpie pens can be used. And this video contest for Mozy (http://computernightmare.com/) which lets users upload videos of their computer disaster stories.

  2. bug menot, November 26, 2008 at 2:05 p.m.

    Did you pick up the phone and actually try calling Parkay to ASK them about this?

  3. L. H., November 26, 2008 at 2:05 p.m.

    I can see it now, a tub of margarine with a twitter account

  4. Carri Bugbee from Big Deal Digital, November 26, 2008 at 3:08 p.m.

    Unfortunately, social media isn't on the radar screens of most marketers yet. Though I wonder why every single day.

    No matter. I just created a Twitter account for Parkay: http://twitter.com/parkay

    If the brand (or its agency) wakes up to smell the margarine, they can have it. In the meantime, follow and tweet your thoughts! With the holidays coming up, it should be a good time for butter and its substitutes. Spread the love! ;-)

    Carri Bugbee
    http://www.bigdealpr.com
    Social profiles: https://chi.mp/s/carribugbee.mp

  5. Eric Mohr from EBM Direct Marketing Services LLC, November 26, 2008 at 3:15 p.m.

    I am working for a company, Colligent Direct, (www.colligentdirect.com) who aggregated over 100MM public social media participants on two, (soon to be three) major social media sites. I wrote about their capabilities and psychosocial marketing via social networks on my blog, www.ericbmohr.com.
    The major advantage social marketing, and Colligent Direct in particular, has is that it represent self reported information. Colligent can pin point individuals, through self reported actions such as major brands, magazines, movies, political views etc. This is a wealth of consumer research and marketing campaigns. And, unlike any other media, we identify know users of brands who become your advocates, through the inherent word of mouth interaction on social media.

    As marketers, we are always looking for ways our customers to become our advocates through word of mouth, (the best form of advertising). Well we have it through psychosocial marketing via social media. I believe it is the next "big thing" on the net.

  6. Cindy Murphy from RadiumOne, November 28, 2008 at 6:36 p.m.

    Heard a great comment the other day - whether or not a company has a social media strategy, they HAVE a social media strategy. Motrin is a key example - a simple banner and TV program (with no 'social' media) irked so many moms that their tweets brought the whole campaign to a halt!

  7. Jill Kurtz from Jill A Kurtz, APR, November 29, 2008 at 9:01 p.m.

    This is a great piece. I also look for the social media angle in all things, and like you see great opportunity here.

    As pointed out in some responses, there is risk with social media. But you do not reap rewards without taking risk.

    So, YouTube might be risky. Well, there are any number of other social media opportunities out there. So, do something else! Doing nothing just makes no sense in 2008 (soon to be 2009!)

    One great example of letting "customers" tell their stories that I have seen is the Ever Elon campaign that let's folks associated with the university tell their stories: http://www.elon.edu/e-web/ever_elon/

    This shows a great way to be social and still maintain control of your campaign/message.

    More marketers need to start thinking of creative ways to get past the knee-jerk "risky" reaction and start exploring social media opportunities. After all, for most, the people they are trying to reach are already there...

  8. George Carson from Carson and Company, December 15, 2008 at 7:40 p.m.

    Hey, sorry to jump in late and comment. I like what you said, and yes the boat was missed by the agency, or pr firm. The reason I think it was an oversight, the agency side is not savvy in this area. At least the account people or the management team are probably to blame.
    Although we cannot keep up with every new trend, YouTube has been around long enough for this to be an oversight.
    What about podcasts? I haven't cheked out the Parkay site, but if they did not post the commercial as a podcast, they again missed the boat. Maybe the client needs to look elsewhere before the "boat" sinks.

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