Peeps Proves PR Has No Season
Easter was less than two weeks ago, yet for marketers and public relations professionals, that time period seems like eons. Instead, focus is on the next opportunity to reach potential consumers with their branding messages and purchase opportunities. One might sanely argue that for Easter candy, the PR season his highly targeted: basically, get your newsworthiness done when product is on shelf, before the Big Bunny leaves sugary deposits in households across the country. Perhaps the window extends a bit earlier, allowing brands to create some product anticipation among its target market. What about the time following Easter Sunday? Must this be dead air – with deep discounts on unsold chocolate eggs the only thing that people may (quietly) talk about? Previously, perhaps. But this video starring Peeps, the sugar-covered marshmallow bunnies and chicks of unnatural hue that kids (and some adults) adore, clearly turned that idea on its head.
It seems that a light bulb (or rather, as the video points out, a candle) went off over someone’s head. Why just talk about buying Peeps to put in Easter baskets, when one can talk about something else that’s incredibly interesting and fun, using Peeps to illustrate that topic? Something that has value beyond Easter. In fact, the post-Easter period can be a brilliant time to make that news…when people don’t expect to hear about Peeps or any other Easter candy competitors. Enter NPR’s “Kitchen Science” video: Finding the Speed of Light (with Peeps).
That’s right: NPR actually uses these cute symbols of Easter sweetness to calculate E = MC squared…and shows everyday folks who are watching how they, too, can accomplish this feat of great science with just a microwave and a bunch of Peeps. Peeps of all shapes and colors are the absolute star of the show, even brought to life a bit claymation-style to represent famous scientists throughout time. Unbelievably, the simple science experiment comes incredibly close to calculating the actual speed of light – within a margin of error that represented a breakthrough for Galileo many years ago and therefore is certainly an acceptable result for families in their home kitchens.
Breaking down the intricacy of the calculation into simple terms that anyone can understand, and throwing in some jokes for good measure, this is edutainment at its best. It’s also incredible PR: the product becomes content for someone else’s message in a way that appeals to the target audience of parents buying for kids. After all, those parents will likely be showing this video to their children, in an effort to feed their brains with the information. It’s a bonding opportunity that can become a family tradition, as they run out to the store and scoop up any remaining Peeps in order to try the experiment themselves. And in case they’ve missed the Peeps-buying window, now there is another reason to buy extra Peeps the next time they appear on store shelves.
This public relations tactic is more than a chance to make news. Rather, it is a brilliant way to stand out from the crowded marketplace, make noise when it is definitely not expected, and inject a brand into the consumer mindset in a way that extends the engagement opportunity. One might say it’s rather sticky…kind of like Peeps themselves.
Note: This article first appeared under my Examiner.com column. Please follow me there too! 🙂