Retro Lance Goes Viral on ViTrue

NEW YORK What do you get when a 93-year-old packaged-goods pioneer partners with a 93-day-old user-created advertising pioneer? In the case of Lance and social video platform ViTrue, it’s “Lance in My Pants” as a viral campaign.

The initiative, which builds on the Charlotte, N.C.-based snack-maker’s radio campaign of three years starring Comedy Central host Adam Corolla, invites consumers to upload their own “I Got Lance in My Pants!” commercials at lance.com and ViTrue’s user-generated ad site, sharkle.com.

“The goal is to contemporize the brand,” said Lance vice president of marketing Todd Phillips. “Tradition and heritage reinforce the quality perception, but we want to make sure that the brand maintains its relevancy to young consumers, so we have to do things that are bold and powerful.”

Qualifying the effort as “un-Lance-like,” Phillips said the home of brands such as Toastchee, Thunder, Captain’s Wafers and Gold N Chees only built a Web site in 2000. Four years later it stepped up its digital marketing with audio and video e-postcards, and more recently, with ring-tone downloads.

“Lance is a very traditional company with a retro image that’s come into vogue,” said ViTrue CEO Reggie Bradford. “It’s a natural fit for us—the whole vision for ViTrue is to be a safe place for brands.”

The Atlanta-based startup offers marketers a platform for interacting with consumers, from supplying tools for vetting, editing, green lighting and launching user-created ad campaigns to making available specs for popular mash-ups.

“What ViTrue does is put guard rails around user-generated advertising so it may become less cacophonous,” said Tim Hanlon, senior vice president of ventures, Denuo.

Said Bradford: “We offer safeguards and protections, so Lance gets approval of what gets uploaded, and we have tools in place so that consumers are only participating with copy-protected material.”

ViTrue’s budding client roster includes Sony Pictures and Moe’s Southwest Grill.

A veteran of Miller Brewing, WebMD and N2 Broadband, Bradford approached Lance this spring, at a time when it was seeking to expand into user-generated video advertising but was unsure of how to proceed. What recommended ViTrue, per Phillilps, was its “combination of the ability to rate [submissions], the amount of hits they were getting on their site and the right tools with the right attitude.”

Phillips concluded that sharkle.com’s teen and 20-something community was an optimal match for Lance’s target demographic of 18-49-year-old males “on the go” (with a secondary emphasis on female grocery shoppers). “It blew my mind—I was on it half the night,” he said.

Phillips’ “perfect scenario” for the campaign—which will feature monthly contests and prizes—is to draw young consumers to lance.com, where they can engage with the brand and shop online.

Said Bradford, “We’re in the very early stages of ushering in the new era of one-to-one marketing where companies like Lance can build personality and emotion around their brands in a way that only video can deliver with the targeting capabilities of the Web.”