This is the first in aÂ special series ofÂ Thursday blogs that aims to give familiar but dated brands a digital face-lift by using social media, original videos, article marketing, mobile marketing and blogging.
The Patient: Hostess Snack Cakes purveyors of Twinkies, Cupcakes, and Ho Hos.
The Ailment: Hostess suffers from a chronically lame website, a lack of identity, a dwindling presence online, and aÂ sagging social media strategy.
Prognosis: Grim. If the snack food brand refuses to step into 2010, Twinkies could be a thing of the past.
Recommended Treatment: When the going gets tough, the tough reach out for something fun. Sure, Twinkies are the exact thing films like Food Inc. are warning people against. Yet Hostess Snack Cakes like cheesy action films or reality TV serve their purpose: in moderation they provide a little fun and a little escape. So there’s no reason the classic junk food can’t get an update and survive well into the next decade.
First off, Hostess needs to lighten the heck up. Jeeze. It’s Ding Dongs, not prunes for crying out loud. Their website is a flat, bland affair with little reason to ever return other than the promise of coupons upon signing the email list. Email list? How retro. And not in a good way. If Hostess wants to kick it old skool, they should employ their groovy characters and visuals from the past. The kids who used to watch Thundercats on Saturday mornings are now parentsÂ so speaking to them with 1970’s and 1980’s imagery is a no-brainer.Â A little music and animation could really liven up the website as well. The site could really benefit from a funny and entertaining blog. Think Crockpot 365 but with Hostess products. PackÂ it with kitschy recipes, funny videos, and great Hostess trivia and watch the buzz develop.
Now about that email list. Hostess can hang onto that as long as they provide links to a Twitter page or Facebook page. I could not find a Hostess Twitter page even though there were hundreds ofÂ @suziemarks is eating a Twinkie in her car- type of tweets.Â Twitter would be a lighthearted way to provide links to Hostess products and discounts while communicating with customers. When it comes to Facebook, the brand does have an official Twinkie fan page but you’d never know it.Â Tough to find and identical to theÂ groups and other pages, Â Hostess has a tough time standing out on Facebook.Â The little word “official” in the title would ensure that junk food junkies were ending up in the right place. The page itself is another neglected marketing opportunity. With over 3,500 fans the page could entertain fans, hold contests, and launch campaigns.Â Mainly, Facebook would be a great venue for original videos.
There are tons and tons of fan-made Hostess videos on Youtube. Tapping into these videosÂ while calling for more videos is a creative and low cost campaign to engage consumers. Look at Pringles fan page on Facebook, for example. It has hundreds of links to Pringles themed videos that convey the brand’s easy style of marketing. These videos are not great film making by any means, but they are fun… and Hostess could use a heavy dose of fun.
Conclusion:Like many businesses, Hostess faces challenges as fickle consumers change tastes and needs. Yet also like many other businesses, Hostess can easily infuse their brand with good times and happiness by using funny videos, maximizing social media, and by getting back to their roots as a product that makesÂ customers smile.