Hamburger Helper and the Future of Branding and Marketing
Hamburger Helper released a mixtape called Watch the Stove. It’s 5 surprisingly good tracks from some up and coming artists. The songs run the gamut from radio friendly to experimental and introspective. The only real common thread between them is that, lyrically, they’re all about Hamburger Helper. Now, if this sounds like nonsense to you, you wouldn’t be alone, but I recommend you give it a listen.
This mixtape raises some interesting questions about Branding and Marketing, and the importance of Authenticity in the age of social media. The @Helper twitter account has been talking about releasing his mixtape for 5 years. Most wrote it off as a clever, fairly genuine attempt to become relevant with the young/college demographic that makes up about half of their sales. A few of the commentators who were paying attention noted that @Helper was surprisingly authentic for a corporate brand, and that the account seemed to be run by 1) people who were already Twitter Users, 2) members of their target demographic. Essentially, the @Helper account was run by the kind of young guys @Helper wanted to reach.
Lots of other brands have tried (with varrying degrees of success) to use a similar formula to engage with their audiences. Everyone has seen a funny tweet from Denny’s, for example. Few have managed to do it with any degree of authenticity (everyone has groaned at a tweet from Denny’s, for example.) The @Helper mixtape is significant, not only because it’s actually pretty good, but also because it could indicate the beginnings of a fundamental shift in the way brands interact with consumers, which would be pretty welcome
Essentially, Watch The Stove is the latest in a wave of marketing practices that feel less like cheap stunts, and more like people that care about a thing demonstrating the way that they care about the thing. Maybe other brands will take notice, and stop being afraid of their customers. If this kind of authenticity is the marketing of the future, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing.
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