How a viral ballad about Cadbury Creme Eggs led to a marketing career

Boo Detch is the mastermind behind Panera Bread's French Onion soup video starring Phyllis from The Office, but her career really started on a chocolaty note.

ST. LOUIS: Boo Detch took a tastier route to the position of digital content and social media manager at Panera Bread than most of her peers. In fact, her career path started in a way with an ode to Cadbury Creme Eggs. 

Detch made a video ballad about Cadbury Creme Eggs in early 2015 when she was working as a copyright coordinator for film and TV music at Warner Chappell Music, a music publishing company and division of Warner Music Group. At the time, Cadbury had just changed the egg’s recipe from dairy milk to "standard cocoa mix chocolate," a Cadbury representative told The Sun.

"I am notorious in my friend group for loving Cadbury Creme Eggs, so when they changed the recipe, I got about seven texts," said Detch. "You know you have a problem when you get that many texts about a product."

There was a silver lining to the ingredient change. The ordeal inspired Detch to write a ballad about her love for the treat. She got home from work, wrote the song and shot and edited a video in three hours. Then she posted the video on Twitter and went to bed.

"The next morning, I woke up and there were thousands of views on the video and I had an email from ITV News asking if they could write a story about it," she said.

In the next few weeks, she was interviewed by outlets in London, Australia and the U.S., from BBC to BuzzFeed.

"This was before I knew anything about social media, before I was in the marketing world," Detch said. "It was a brand new experience. I didn’t really know what was going on, but it was exciting and fun. 

She said it was fascinating to watch people from all over the world who speak different languages chat about her video on Twitter and share it. 

"That spurred me to change [career] paths," she said. "I knew I wanted to work in a creative capacity."

Detch started taking night classes at Emory University and earned a social media strategist certification. In 2016, she moved to West Virginia, where her brother Matt Detch was a Democratic candidate for Congress. Boo Detch ran his social media and communications and helped the local United Way with flood-relief communications after his campaign ended. Next, she got a gig at HLK, a St. Louis-based advertising and digital marketing agency before she joined Panera Bread in July 2018, 

Detch, who reports to director of brand marketing Kelli Nicholson, is not the head of social media at Panera, but she plays a big part in content brainstorms with agency partner Anomaly. 

"I approve content and give feedback to the creative agency," Detch explained. "When we have cultural opportunities and need to move quickly, I write copy and create memes."

Her approach to social media is amplifying Panera’s "amazing product" in a fun way, she said.

Detch was the mastermind behind Panera Bread’s viral French Onion soup video starring Phyllis from The Office. The video, posted on social media this month, has received more than 10 million views across platforms. 

The video was actually made in response to customer complaints. After noticing patrons were posting on social media about Panera no longer serving French onion soup, the internal comms team developed a video with some of the most "sad, overdramatic" tweets, said Detch. It identified Phyllis Smith, the actress who plays The Office character Phyllis Vance, as the best person to do the reading. Smith is also a St. Louis native, just like Panera.   

"Her voice and past characters she has played embody the emotion I was feeling while reading all of these tweets," said Detch.

The video came together quickly. Smith expressed interest on a Friday, but needed to see a script by Monday for approval. Detch wrote the lines over the weekend; it was quickly approved and filming started a week later.

Detch said there are a few key ingredients for viral content. For starters, both videos tapped into conversations that were already happening and the responses were genuine.

"There’s truth in comedy," said Detch. "That’s why those videos did well."

Social content should also strike an emotion in consumers, she says. Indifference won’t get people to share it.

"You have to make people cry, laugh, shock them or give them a piece of information that has value to them," said Detch. "And don’t be afraid to make an idiot out of yourself."

This story was updated on January 28 to correct the number of views the 'Phyllis' video received across platforms. 

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