Oscar Mayer is running a social media campaign that encourages people to have front yard barbecues that still respect social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus pandemic, the company shared with Marketing Dive.
The push by Kraft Heinz's hot dog brand illustrates what a front yard cookout could look like, with each household safely grilling in their own driveway and waving to neighbors across the street. The effort includes a 10-second digital ad and 30-second TV spot.
The campaign also calls people to come out for a Front Yard Cookout on May 2, the same day Oscar Mayer plans to donate 1 million meals to the nonprofit Feeding America. The brand will share up to 1 million additional meals if fans post photos of their outdoor setups on Twitter with the hashtag #FrontYardCookout throughout May.
With Memorial Day right around the corner and weather warming up, American barbecue season — and sales of grill-ready items like hot dogs — would be starting to ramp up under normal circumstances. However, coronavirus-related lockdowns and social distancing mandates stand in the way of typical summer gatherings, so Oscar Mayer is searching for a workaround that aims to keep the spirit of the season alive while also supporting the brand's social media presence.
The Kraft Heinz marketer's campaign offers a glimpse of what cookout events could look like in the current environment. The ads illustrate how communities can still gather for regular activity while practicing safe social distancing, including by standing "12 hot dogs apart." By creating a short social video ads and running a cause-driven hashtag campaign on Twitter, the hot dog brand could position itself as socially aware at a time when consumers are demanding practical solutions from companies addressing the coronavirus.
Incorporating a charity element to the campaign may also boost traction for Oscar Mayer, as many Americans are looking to support those in need during the pandemic.
While many industries have been pummeled by the pandemic and mass retail closures, grocery sales in a number of categories are up. Kraft Heinz, in particular, is experiencing a resurgence during the health crisis as people stock up on comfort foods and non-perishables.
The boost comes off a tough 2019 for Kraft Heinz, as the company wrote down the value of its legacy Kraft and Oscar Mayer labels by $15.4 billion last February — a downturn that led to several executive shakeups, including at the CEO and CMO level.
Kraft Heinz could see a bigger marketing opportunity to keep up its momentum through the summer. As many consumers' wallets are pinched by furloughs and layoffs, more may turn to buying basic comfort foods or attempt to resume a semblance of normal activities, like cookouts, but with extra healthcare precautions in mind.