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In a series of new spots, Kraft Heinz's Oscar Mayer attempts to bottle up its personality and convey the magic of moments like its Wienermobile rolling through town.
Expressed through bite-sized content in the form of six- and 15-second ads, a trio of videos shows quirky scenarios with almost no context or narrative, breaking from a traditional storytelling strategy to instead zero in on playful and unexpected uses for meat.
In one spot, a queen feeds the ghost living in a pyramid by biting into her sandwich. In another, a sleeping woman nestles into a slice of bread and is blanketed by a pile of deli meat. The third depicts two pieces of bacon vying to be eaten by the person holding them.
The ads are part of a broader campaign that sets out to explore the idea of what it means to be Oscar Mayer through a fresh, content-driven approach.
"This isn't a meat lover's, Arby's sort of campaign, but really like using the meat as a bit of a paintbrush to surprise people," said Emily Garvey Elias, group strategy director at agency Johannes Leonardo, which helped create the effort.
The work taps into the eccentric ideas of several creators and marks the latest chapter in the "Keep It Oscar" master brand platform that debuted in late April. It is Oscar Mayer's first creative transformation in decades, aiming to build on a 138-year-old legacy with a modern twist and stronger sense of cohesion across the label's products. The push also marks the major effort spearheaded by Johannes Leonardo, which took over as Oscar Mayer's creative agency of record last year.
"When we started working with Oscar Mayer, we talked to them a lot about how the brand had sort of lost its way and started taking itself pretty seriously — a bit like apologizing for who the brand was," Elias said.
The brand spent years using advertising to level up a positioning around quality, Elias added, noting how that approach helped to establish Oscar Mayer as an iconic brand among consumers. During campaign development, the agency examined key creative elements such as the Wienermobile and jingle, "My bologna has a first name," and discovered that what has stuck with consumers over the years are Oscar Mayer's unexpected moments that spark joy.
"Oscar Mayer has a legacy and emotional undercurrent that a lot of brands would kill for," Elias said. "I think where we are now is a big shift, but in a lot of ways it's just getting back to the roots of the brand."
To capture the brand's unexpected spirit, the retooled creative approach now centers on conveying a vibe instead of telling a traditional narrative. Grounding the campaign's development was the question: If the Wienermobile lived in a world of its own, what else would be in that world? The answer is that "wonderfully odd spirit" that makes the new creative feel natural on nontraditional marketing platforms like TikTok, according to Elias.
Videos under the "Keep It Oscar" banner will appear on TikTok and other social media sites, along with traditional TV buys, online video and out-of-home. While Oscar Mayer is a newcomer to TikTok — it first posted on April 30 — it has generated more than 76 million views and 670,000 likes on the platform. Two thousand users created posts using the "Yum Choir" soundtrack, while the brand gained 45,000 followers in five weeks, per stats provided by Oscar Mayer.
The agency and brand are developing a hashtag challenge on TikTok to encourage user participation and extend the forward-thinking approach for "Keep It Oscar."
Creating fresh iconography
While the quirky spirit of the Wienermobile underpins the campaign's creative strategy, it is noticeably missing from the new spots within "Keep It Oscar." Its absence is part of a push to create additional brand iconography while reminding consumers that Oscar Mayer offers more products than solely hot dogs.
"The ambition here is to start to build some new memory structures around the brand," Elias said. "The Wienermobile continues to be a huge part of the brand, and we're definitely thinking through ways to use it moving forward.
"Deli meat isn't exactly the sexiest product on paper, but it's the bulk of [Oscar Mayer's] business."