LA PORTE, IND: Candy brand Red Vines doesn’t have the same big budget as Hershey-owned rival Twizzlers. So when bags of treats, including Red Vines, parachuted from the ceiling in one of this year’s big on-air Oscars stunts, it was a "huge" free publicity win for the brand.
The stunt generated $1.9 million in equivalent advertising value for Red Vines, according to calculations by Apex Marketing Group.
The marketing team behind Red Vines, owned by American Licorice Company, had no clue its product would be featured during the show. Staffers weren’t even monitoring the show or social media for a possible mention, noted Kristi Shafer, director of marketing, American Licorice Company.
"I was 10 minutes behind on the show because I had paused it to put my kids to bed, and suddenly my phone was blowing up," explained Shafer. "People were texting me, saying, ‘Jimmy Kimmel just mentioned Red Vines and now they are falling from the ceiling.’"
Shafer immediately texted Brooke Rapchak, who handles Red Vines’ social media as the brand’s consumer communications specialist. Right away, Rapchak jumped on Red Vines’ Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook channels. Red Vines does not work with a PR firm, and it handles all comms internally.
Rapchak had total control of the brand’s social response to the situation. She immediately started retweeting posts about the candy drop and responding to the brand’s followers on social.
"[Rapchak] is well-versed in being the voice of the brand, so she knew what to do," said Shafer.
@people we might not be able to make it rain, but we can definitely get ya some vines?— Red Vines (@RedVines) February 27, 2017
On Tuesday, Red Vines created a GIF relating to the candy drop and put it on social.
Red Vines has also been keeping tabs on media coverage of the candy drop. Some outlets, such as Good Morning America, have been misreporting it was Twizzlers and not Red Vines that fell from the ceiling during the show. To correct the error, Red Vines has been engaging with the outlets on social.
Additionally, the brand has sent Red Vines packages to E! News and Oscars’ host Kimmel.
"For any brand that gets mentioned on a big platform such as the Oscars, be ready and be prepared," noted Rapchak. "The biggest thing for us was making sure we weren’t putting stuff out there because we could, but it made sense to the brand, and we made sure to use the brand’s voice. We maintain ourselves in everything we are posting."
Shafer added that being included in the Oscars was "huge" for Red Vines and the brand is "extremely appreciative."
Mike and Ike, which likewise did not know its brand would be included in the show, made a custom Mike and Ike box, called Jimmy and Sunny, for Kimmel and Lion’s Sunny Pawar, who had a discussion about candy live during the Oscars. The brand sent a mock-up of a custom Mike and Ike theater box to the two stars, along with an offer letter.
"Tell us your favorite fruity Mike and Ike flavors, and we’ll design a new box with custom graphics to commemorate your night hosting the 89th annual Academy Awards," the letter, emailed to PRWeek from Mike and Ike’s PR firm Coyne, said.