Nick Lachey, Wendy's, and Hashtags: How to Sell a Cheeseburger in 2013
I am sent dozens of PR pitches a day. I am not some cutting-edge tastemaker; I get these because of my publicly listed email address and lax spam filter. I received one last week that was formatted like the others--boldfaced celebrity name, idiot-proof "WHAT/WHY/WHERE/WHEN" matrix, ironic public relations boilerplate about confidentiality--but it caught my eye. Allow me to summarize: Nick Lachey, of boy band and reality show fame, would be singing about a new Wendy's cheeseburger at one of the chain's New York restaurants. Specifically, he would be singing people's tweets that contained the #PretzelLoveSongs hashtag.
Nick Lachey and his guitar player.
Before we go further, please know that I will eventually use this forum to talk about Wendy's new Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. That's what this entire Monday evening was about, after all. I would be doing you, myself, Nick Lachey, a PR firm, two separate marketing companies, and the good people of Wendy's a disservice if I didn't get to the damn cheeseburger.
But for now, I want to talk about everything that came with it. The toppings, if you will.
The combination of "remember the '90s?" celebrity, campy musical performance, and social media campaign was not merely designed to catch the eye; it was patently obvious that it was tailored to get attention.
Advertising started with sincere pitches for products ("Buy X because Y"). Later, ads set themselves apart by demonstrating awareness of themselves as ads. I.e. they used their own cleverness and self-reference as a selling point (SEE: Isuzu, Joe). With the advent of social media, the most powerful marketing comes from consumers passing along much of the message via Facebook, Twitter, etc. And to get us consumers to do that, companies need to trick us into doing their legwork by setting up a scenario in which we earnestly believe our social standing will be enforced or improved by participating in a pitch.We have to believe that we are in on the joke.
This is how to sell a cheeseburger in 2013. It is exhausting.