Campaign Trail is our look at some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world.
What do food-themed stretch pants, augmented reality turkeys and Matthew McConaughey have in common? Well, not a ton, but they're all part of creative Thanksgiving campaigns this year. Below, Marketing Dive's editors break down how Kraft Heinz's Stove Top brand, GE Appliances and bourbon maker Wild Turkey are getting into the seasonal spirit through goofy merch, mobile technology and charitable giveaways:
Stove Top's stuffing-patterned pants make room for overeating, but good luck getting a pair
The rundown: Few people leave the Thanksgiving dinner table without having to move a notch up in their belt — an issue Kraft Heinz's Stove Top stuffing brand is attempting to ameliorate this year by selling a pair of high-waisted stretch pants that expand along with the wearer's belly.
The goofy, stuffing-patterned piece of apparel, priced at $19.98 and available via a microsite, would make the perfect gimmick to win some belly laughs this holiday weekend. That is if it wasn't already sold out.
To make up for the supply shortage, Stove Top is offering downloads of a branded holiday card on the site and encouraging owners of the pants to share their look on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #Thanksgivingdinnerpants. The brand also produced a 1:30 spot that replicates the cheesy, over-the-top style of daytime infomercials that consistently seem to peddle products that provide solutions to decidedly minor problems:
The results: Plenty of marketers are dipping their toes into the merch game these days, from KFC with its new e-commerce site to Taco Bell, which earlier this fall released a "food fashion" collaboration with retailer Forever 21. Stove Top's stunt feels especially timely and on-brand, however, providing an oddball yet practical solution for seasonal gluttony and acknowledging that some customers might be eating a little too much of the label's own products this Thanksgiving.
For those that missed the pants purchase window, there's sure to be others sharing the get-up on social media, because what's the point of buying a statement piece like this if friends don't see it? Stove Top, in turn, can repurpose that user content to drum up some extra reach and brand awareness for the key holiday period.
The infomercial spoof adds a nice splash of humor, noting the item can double as a storage unit or maternity pants and is "based on the same technology used in astronaut's underpants." The video's already raked in over 135,000 YouTube hits since going live last week.
GE Appliances kicks up its heels with dancing Snapchat 3-D Lens
The rundown: GE Appliances, which is owned by Haier, is the first appliance brand to leverage the new Snapchat 3-D Open Surface Lens, according to the company. The lens, which is live, showcases a dancing Thanksgiving turkey while highlighting the brand's new premium finishes: Black Stainless, Stainless, Black Slate and Slate.
Viewers can watch a turkey dance into and out of a 3-D GE refrigerator, which is placed in their surroundings in the picture. By flipping the camera, users can see selfie sunglasses that show a reflection of the dancing turkey and rotate through the different finishes.
The filter is being promoted to GE Appliances's targeted audience and can be accessed by snapping a photo of a SnapCode.
The results: GE Appliances is clearly hoping to kick up some excitement by combining two key recent trends — dancing food-related memes a la Snapchat's own Dancing Hot Dog, which has seen more than 3 billion views, and the use of AR technology to depict how a piece of furniture or appliance might look in a consumer's home. This example also provides a glimpse into how brands can take advantage of Snapchat 3-D lenses, which are still relatively new, only rolling out to all advertisers in September.
The effort, which is fun and timely, could attract some interest. Dancing dressed turkeys — as in those that have been cleaned and are ready for cooking — are a bizarre but surprisingly common sight around Thanksgiving, especially in the digital world, where they star in multiple GIFs. Their presence in the Snapchat 3-D Lens makes what otherwise would be a straightforward product placement more fun and therefore likely to have a lasting impression.
Home decor and appliance brands are increasingly active on Snapchat, seeing an opportunity to combine brand content with interactive experiences to engage the platform's audience of millennials, many of whom are at the age where they're starting families and buying homes.
Matthew McConaughey dishes out Thanksgiving birds to neighbors of Wild Turkey
The rundown: On Nov. 4, just ahead of Thanksgiving and the fundraising day "Giving Tuesday," actor Matthew McConaughey and bourbon maker Wild Turkey made the rounds visiting homes of surprised Lawrenceburg, KY, residents. Their goal: delivering more than 60,000 pounds of frozen turkeys to the town of 11,000 that's been home to the Wild Turkey distillery for over a century, as highlighted in a press release.
The brand captured McConaughey's door-to-door deliveries in a 5-minute video released Monday. Playing on its brand name and the holiday spirit, Wild Turkey dished out Butterball-donated birds. This isn't McConaughey's first go-around with Wild Turkey: He's appeared in several of its commercials and was named its creative director last year — an interesting partnership for someone who snagged "Best Actor" at the 2014 Oscars.
The results: Wild Turkey's stunt is a little unusual, perhaps, but nonetheless a kind gesture around the holiday. On top of the poultry hand-delivered by McConaughey and crew, the company also donated 50,000 Thanksgiving meals to families in need, per the release.
McConaughey teased the mission on his Facebook page and streamed parts of it on Facebook Live, attracting real-time interest from fans. Wild Turkey's also pushed shorter snippets on its social media channels and, so far, the full YouTube video's hit nearly 23,000 views in just one day, reaching #40 on the platform's trending section at press time.
#MatthewMcConaughey and 250 volunteers helped us deliver a @butterball turkey, to every family in our hometown – 4,500 birds in total. Thank you, Lawrenceburg, for supporting us for over 100 years. #WildTurkeyGivesBack https://t.co/jgEGe3oUSO— Wild Turkey (@WildTurkey) November 20, 2017
Wild Turkey is likely happy that McConaughey's star wattage has drummed up a lot of extra media coverage for the effort, with write-ups in People, Mashable, Vogue.com and elsewhere. Several viewers also couldn't help but leave comments with references to the star's past roles, including "You got a turkey? Be a lot cooler if you did," playing on one of the lines from his 1993 breakout in "Dazed and Confused."