Steak-umm isn’t quite done with Twitter, but it sees YouTube as the next big frontier for "humanized and relatable" brands.
The brand launched the "Thoughts of Steak-umm" YouTube channel this week with a video of a man in a suit with a Steak-umm box for a head who explains that he wants to come clean about the humanization of brands.
The half-man, half-Steak-umm-box in the video says that brands have to "keep trying more weird stuff" because advertising stunts have become too common.
"We still want to remind people that we are a brand selling products; it is important to stay aware of this in a time where people are trying to be brands and brands are trying to be people, and if you think you're immune to all of this, you're not," he says.
Steak-umm Man then calls out Gillette for its provocative We Believe ad, which encouraged men to change their behavior in light of the #MeToo movement, and Nike’s embrace of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback turned activist Colin Kaepernick.
"These brands are fully aware of what they are doing, and we are all looking for a reaction," says the man with a box for a head.
The idea for the YouTube channel came from Steak-umm’s PR partner since 2015, Allebach Communications. The firm’s social media manager, Nathan Allebach, sadly would not reveal the identity of the man beneath the box. Asked the character’s name, he joked that it is "Steak-umm Box Head Guy," but then quickly said the character has no formal name.
"We are trying to keep it more ambiguous," said Allebach. "We don’t want him to turn into a mascot. He is not like Colonel Sanders or Ronald McDonald. We want to literally just embody the personification of what Steak-umm is."
Multiple people will portray the character, akin to KFC’s rotating Colonel Sanders concept, said Jesse Bender, account director at Allebach Communications. The video-rollout plan includes styles and "chapters" within the YouTube channel with the goal of creating a destination that has "long-term ability and flexibility."
"Our content will take consumers on a journey that will zigzag through a whole bunch of different information and topics that will be easier to digest [than on Twitter]," said Bender. "You can respond to it as you want to, versus being part of the conversation on Twitter."
Over the past six months, news stories about brands on Twitter have gotten "a lot more volatile," Bender explained, because brands are trying to stand out. He said the trend of brands trying to be funny and relatable on Twitter is "bottlenecking."
"Everyone is upping the ante, trying all these new strategies of being provocateurs, even with Burger King tapping into mental health," said Bender.
He added that Steak-umm has no plans to leave Twitter, where it has built a cult following and "got in early enough to make a unique mark," but it wants to stay ahead of the curve.
"After two years of doing this whole human-brand integration style on Twitter, where all these media outlets are writing stories saying ‘Wendy’s, MoonPie and Steak-umm are acting human, it’s crazy, the fourth wall is coming down,’ we are doing the next phase of that," said Allebach. "Instead of tricking people, we want to educate people about what is happening on top of the fact that this is obviously advertising. We are trying to be as honest and open as we can be."
Will the Average Joe understand Steak-umm’s message? Or is it too insidery? Allebach has faith in Steak-umm’s customers.
"Our fans are educated and actively engaged in being critical about what is going on in front of them," he said. "That is why our Twitter follower count grew. They can sense we are aware of what we are doing, and we will continue to do that on YouTube."