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The passion of Miracle Whip

Yesterday I raved about ketchup. So today let’s talk about Miracle Whip, a product I have long viewed with apathy. Why do we care strongly about some products, but feel ambivalence toward others that aren’t much different?

A new campaign from Kraft suggests that some people are truly passionate about Miracle Whip. Watch this spot:

Your eyes do not deceive you. That was Pauly D from “Jersey Shore” shilling for Miracle Whip—by describing how he hates Miracle Whip. The campaign also features obscure celebrities James Carville, Amy Sedaris, some other characters I don’t recognize.

All of them describe how they love—or hate!—Miracle Whip. The ad then shows the line, “We’re not for everyone,” followed by the tagline, “Are you Miracle Whip?”

The centerpiece of the campaign is TV spots, which are presented in a very slick YouTube channel. The site includes a form for ordering a free sample, plus social channels for people who both love and hate Miracle Whip.

Not surprisingly, this campaign is creating a lot of chatter in the ad press. For example, brand consultant Nigel Hollis, writing for Harvard Business Review, points out how similar this is to the famous “Love It or Hate It” campaign for Marmite in the U.K.

Personally, I think “Are you Miracle Whip?” is a strong campaign. Up until right now, I have probably spent less than 15 seconds in the last 12 months thinking about Miracle Whip. I consider it diet mayonaise. At best, it’s boring wallpaper paste on a turkey sandwich.

But these commercials made me reconsider my attitude. I felt like I needed to get fired up about a product I don’t care about—if only to join the club of people who hate it!

Last week when I wrote about Charlie Sheen, I said it’s OK to laugh at the guy and feel sorry for him at the same time, because we can handle simultaneous, conflicting emotions. You’ve probably experienced personal relationships where you love and hate someone at the same time. Both love and hate are a state of arousal. They are closer to each other than to apathy.

This ad campaign has cracked the code. It doesn’t matter if you feel positive or negative toward Miracle Whip—just so you feel something. The right kind of backlash can be good for a supremely boring product nobody thinks about. I think they pulled it off. Well done.

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Who created this campaign? mcgarrybowen Chicago, under chief creative officer Ned Crowley.

Who signed off on it? Tony Vernon, president Kraft Foods North America, and Justin Parnell, Miracle Whip senior brand manager.

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Bonus: One nice thing about social media is we can spy on other brands’ metrics. Miracle Whip’s video featuring Pauly D has 169,450 views, with large numbers of referrals from MTV.com and Pauly D’s web site, plus 59,697 incoming visits from on Facebook. That’s pretty good.

Whatever they’re paying Pauly D is worth it, because the other ads are getting no traction whatsoever. Most of the videos on the YouTube channel have fewer than 200 views. The commercial I embedded above has 738 views, which means Breaking Copy is about to become the single largest driver of traffic to a Kraft Foods video, which is just plain sad.

In addition, the Miracle Whip YouTube page is keeping a count of how many people click a button indicating their love or hate for the stuff. As of this writing, Love is winning by a score of 19,996 to 1,754.

Even with Pauly D going viral and 21,750 clicks on a survey, I would generally consider this is a low social media response for a national campaign that has aired during American Idol (viewed by 26 million people a week).

See how hard it is to fight apathy? To do that, you need a Dip & Squeeze.

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising, Television

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