- Fruit by the Foot, the snack brand marketed by General Mills, is hosting a speed-eating challenge on YouTube Live that pits two contestants against as-yet-unnamed professional athletes. The "Fruit by the Foot Fridays" virtual tournament is inspired by the internet meme showing people unrolling the snack and eating it as quickly as possible with no hands, per an announcement shared with Mobile Marketer.
- Social media personalities Carlos "Famous Los" Sanford and Anthony "Spice" Adams are hosting the tournament, which will livestream on Whistle's YouTube channel tonight at 7 p.m. ET. Whistle is a digital broadcaster with 1.9 million subscribers to its sports-themed videos.
- The two contestants were selected among a group of people who posted their "Fruit by the Foot Fridays" challenge video on Instagram, TikTok or Twitter while using the #FruitbytheFootFridays and #Sweepstakes hashtags, per the contest rules.
General Mills' virtual tournament is parlaying an online challenge that became a popular meme into an opportunity to showcase its brand of fruit snacks. With the suspension of live sports during the coronavirus pandemic, homebound consumers are seeking new ways to entertain themselves during lockdowns. They also rely more heavily on social media to stay connected with the outside world. General Mills observed a 20-fold increase in "Fruit by the Foot Challenge" videos from February to March, according to a blog post — a serendipitous jump in popularity that the snack brand can harness with its virtual tournament on Whistle's YouTube channel.
YouTube was among the video platforms that saw a surge in viewership as pandemic lockdowns went into effect, giving marketers like General Mills a chance to reach audiences who have boosted their consumption of digital media. YouTube's viewing time more than doubled to 32 billion minutes during the first week of April from a year earlier, Nielsen found. In March, YouTube made up 20% of streaming time, making it the second-most popular video platform after Netflix, according to Nielsen data cited by The Hollywood Reporter.
Meanwhile, despite the suspension of live games, sports fans have begun to spend more time on their smartphones than the general population of mobile users, racking up an average of 267.4 minutes a day during the week of March 31, compared with 267.4 minutes for the average mobile user, Nielsen found.
General Mills is among the brands that have created or sponsored livestreamed programming to reach homebound consumers in the past two months of lockdowns. Fashion brand Anne Klein last week started livestreaming a weekly video series on Facebook to highlight inspiring stories by innovative women during the pandemic. Spice maker McCormick this month hosted a virtual taco-making party with actress Drew Barrymore on Instagram Live while raising awareness for pandemic relief. Buffalo Wild Wings, Busch Beer, Cholula Hot Sauce, DoorDash and Chili's Grill & Bar, PepsiCo's Tostitos brand and Verizon also have sponsored livestreams to entertain viewers and promote charity efforts.
Social media challenges have become more popular in the past few years as brands seek to engage mobile audiences in a participatory experience on platforms like YouTube, Instagram and TikTok. Busch Light this month celebrated the return of NASCAR racing with a contest that gave Twitter users a chance to see their faces painted on the stock car sponsored by the beer brand.