ATLANTA: When Carvel’s senior social media manager, Matthew Courtoy, saw Tina Fey’s "sheetcaking" bit on Weekend Update: Summer Edition, his first thought was: "That looks like a Carvel sheetcake."
During Fey’s segment, which appeared on Thursday night, the comedian proposed that instead of getting into arguments with neo-Nazis, people should "find a local business you support, maybe a Jewish run bakery or African-American run bakery, order a cake with the American flag on it, and just eat it."
She then proceeded to scarf down an entire cake, explaining that sheetcaking is a "grass-roots movement."
In response, Carvel jokingly tweeted that it was introducing a new cake called "The Tina," including the hashtags #Sheetcaking and #WeekendUpdate.
Courtoy came up with the idea at about 8 a.m. EST, right after he saw a video of the segment for the first time. He knew it would be a no-brainer for Carvel to post a real-time response to Fey’s comment. But he was also aware that, although sentiment was largely positive for her message, others found it tone-deaf.
After talking it through, Courtoy and his team decided to create a Twitter post that was purposefully vague to avoid any controversy.
"When things like this happen, if you make a passing reference rather than an overt reference, it tends to catch on better," Courtoy noted. "[Our post] was more of a nod to [Fey], rather than the message she was delivering."
The comms team, he explained, is trusted by senior execs at Carvel, who allow them to take chances without running ideas by them before posting.
"They allow me to take chances like this, as long as we are staying true to the brand voice," said Courtoy.
The Hollywood Reporter, People, and Inside Edition all covered Carvel’s tweet.
"They wanted to talk about the tweet and it opened up a dialogue to discuss some upcoming cake promo tie-ins we are doing around the holidays with Pitch Perfect 3," said Courtoy.
The tweet has been retweeted 1,000 times and liked more than 4,500 times.
After the tweet went up, Carvel received a number of emails through its website asking where people could pick up The Tina. Of course, said Courtoy, they couldn’t – it isn’t real. He added that many people on social posted about going to Carvel to get The Tina.
Carvel’s PR AOR, Finn Partners, got involved once the tweet started to gain traction.
"We wanted to give them a heads up that this was gaining steam so they could look for other opportunities that might grow out of it," said Courtoy.
Carvel has no plans to do anything else around The Tina.
"It is hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice," said Courtoy. "Sometimes it is harder to follow-up."