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Social Media Spotlight: Aunt Jemima proves PR firms can do social too

Submitted by on March 7, 2011 – 11:31 am5 Comments

Aunt Jemima, arguably America’s oldest and most recognizable pancake brand, has proved that you can teach an old dog new tricks. With the help of PR powerhouse Weber Shandwick, the brand launched its official social media presence two weeks ago in conjunction with a simple yet effective social undertaking. The numbers are in, and Aunt Jemima’s social unveiling looks promising. This considered, could this spell doom for digital creative agencies? Will the PR firms take the business of campaign execution away from them when it comes to all things social?

The Social Strategy: The approach is remarkably simple. Kinda like instant pancakes. Step one, set up an official branded Facebook and Twitter page. Step two, pick out a couple of company employees and feature them in a video that could be of interest to the Facebook community. What is the process used to make Aunt Jemima frozen breakfast pancakes and waffles, anyway? Now you know… once you click the Like button, Aunt Jemima fans can view the video of just how the product is made and then print out a coupon for a discount on their next Aunt Jemima purchase. Step three, keep the community hot with regular company wall posts and watch the social numbers rise.

It’s worth mentioning that this isn’t a traditional campaign, per se. This is the beginning of a long term social media presence, which may explain why Weber Shandwick got the gig. ”The goal is really to share with America how we make our pancakes, waffles and French toast, which is exactly the way you do it at home,” said Andy Reichgut, vp of marketing, Pinnacle Foods, the company behind the iconic American pancake brand. This ‘campaign’ will go on “in perpetuity. We think this is our communication going forward. This is just the beginning.”

The Results: The Facebook and Twitter accounts were officially launched on February 17. Since then, the Facebook page has attracted 50,000 fans. The Twitter page can’t be said to have made such progress, with only 44 new followers.

Of course, it has yet to be seen how many of these new fans actually appreciate the Aunt Jemima brand as opposed to just scrounging for free coupons. The majority of wall posts (see image below) seem to be by non-internet savvy moms trying to score a coupon. There doesn’t appear to be any chatter about the video’s merits or the pancake making process.

One thing is for sure, requiring coupon seekers to “Like” the page before being able to access the coupon seems to be an effective way of upping the number of social followers. Free pancakes are not a new strategy either. Last year, IHOP (International House of Pancakes) offered customers free pancakes with a donation to charity on National Pancake day. The deal was one of the hottest Twitter trends of the day.

Enter the PR social media experts: In the short history of social media marketing, the industry truth seems to be that when a brand goes searching for a roster agency to help with a new social media effort, every firm plus their dog claims to be the social media expert. The popular strategy appears to be working with a creative agency that can make a dynamic social campaign with something engaging. Pimping their fine work was then left to the traditional PR firm.

But PR firms have shown that they have a strong voice in the new social media marketing landscape. Just last week we reported on Ford’s social media venture that was run by, you guessed it, the specialized outdoor PR firm Outside Media. Again, the strategy was simple and effective, as it bypassed fancy graphics and videos by sticking with a down-to-earth user generated content contest. The Aunt Jemima simple yet effective social media unveiling strategy may be a testament to more a PR-run social marketing future.


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