Way back in November we posted a sad ode to the Twinkie, an icon of America’s junk food addiction that died before its time. But the spongy cream cake’s fortunes have turned since then: this week the private equity firm Apollo Management Group and the food-oriented Metropoulos & Company bought the Twinkie name, along with other classic snacks like Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, from the bankrupt Hostess company.
Here’s the thing: M&C is the same firm responsible for the triumphant return of once-dead cheapo beer brand Pabst Blue Ribbon.
That’s right: the same guys who turned PBR into the go-to brew for drunk punks, amateur “performance artists” and philosophy students around the country (the world?) are now responsible for managing the future fortunes of the Twinkie.
Can they bring the brand back from the dead using the same nostalgic/ironic strategy? Mr. Metropoulos himself says yes!
How did he make PBR big, again? He pursued an “anti-marketing” approach by avoiding TV ads, buying spots on NPR, sponsoring music festivals and sending free neon signs to dive bars around the country–in other words, he benefited from the hipster endorsement without blatantly embracing it. He plans to do the same with the Twinkie by focusing on viral/social media marketing, releasing “healthier” options(?) and hiring “comedian friends like Zach Galifianakis” as spokesmen (OK, that’s blatant pandering).
Can we see people scarfing down Twinkies on the next Black Keys tour? Probably not. But rebranding is a funny thing, isn’t it?
Now for the sad news: most of the 18,000 people who work for Hostess will probably still lose their jobs. And the folks who spent exorbitant amounts buying Twinkies on eBay are probably feeling kind of dumb right about now. But don’t let these facts get you down! Grab some beer and cake! (On second thought, don’t do that…)