Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Hellman's: In search of real traffic

For the first time last night saw the new TV campaign for Hellman's Mayonnaise, which positions the Best Foods brand as real food under the "It's time for real" tagline. (You can see the spot here.) I was sort of intrigued because there seems to be a real food trend-let going on. There was a story in The New York Times Sunday Magazine a few months ago (which unfortunately, I couldn't find for this post), which posited that if people just started eating food that started its life as food—as opposed to food-like products such as Doritos and Gogurt—we could solve the obesity epidemic. Even if one doubts the health benefits of mayonnaise, at least it's a good sign that it goes bad pretty quickly if it's not put in the refrigerator. Anyway, I followed the campaign online, and even if the premise is in keeping with the times, the effort just goes to show that that doesn't a viral marketing program make. The company appears to have posted eight videos, mostly featuring guy cook Dave Lieberman, under insearchofrealfood on YouTube, starting two weeks ago—so far, all eight have a total of slightly more than 700 views. But the online hub of the campaign looks like this site at Yahoo Food, where Lieberman is taking what visitors there are on a virtual tour of cuisines of America. There are also opportunities to swap recipes, share "real food" videos (whatever that means), and participate in the inevitable "Real Food" blog, with posts written by Lieberman. But, just as with the YouTube site, the traffic is pitiful. The group on the site has roughly 850 members, and Lieberman has posted only seven times. Though one post garnered a healthy discussion on what real food is, the one that caught my eye was the post that had over 130 comments. Something, I figured, must be going on there. And it is: the majority of the comments are devoted to discussing how annoying a pop-up ad in support of the campaign is. It apparently was served to Yahoo email users and disrupted their email experience, with one frustrated user commenting, with reference to the upcoming Independence Day: "Yea, Dave. While you open your mouth about the upcoming celebration of our freedom, it seems that I'm denied the freedom of deleting your annoying commercial." Give Hellman's credit for leaving the comments up, but other than that, given that the demo for Hellman's is pretty much the whole country, there's something's wrong with this campaign. Looks like Ogilvy and Mather is the agency.

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