It may not seem like there's a lot to laugh about given the state of current affairs, but Kraft learned otherwise during a 23-city tour that brought out thousands of people for a national giggle contest.
The stunt for Jell-O, dubbed "Give it a Giggle," sent a truck tricked out as a recording studio to Atlanta, Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere, recording consumers' best crack-up efforts. For inspiration, the trucks played webisodes starring Bill Cosby, iconic comedian and former Jell-O spokesman, who's working with the brand again. The video shorts put Cosby in his favorite milieu -- in front of an audience of kids who, in fact, say the darnest things.
"We were looking for people with giggles that are contagious," said Cindy Chen, Jell-O's director of marketing. "We want that giggle to bring out other people's giggles."
Of the thousands of snorts and titters recorded so far, Kraft executives and the brand's ad and PR agencies winnowed that number to 10. Online voting for the favorite giggle begins Sept. 21. The top three finalists will go to Cosby, who'll make the final selection. The winning chuckle will be included in a national TV commercial, scheduled to air later this year. Cosby will help create the spot, Chang said.
The event is part of the most aggressive Jell-O marketing push in years. It launched in May and has rolled out over the summer with three rotating TV spots from Draft FCB, Chicago, including one with "Jell-O ambassadors" doling out the treat to folks on the street. There's also print, in-store, outdoor and digital efforts, along with a tweaked logo that now includes a smiley face. The Jell-O Facebook page banked 100,000 fans in its first week, and now has more than 122,000 "friends."
Jell-O is the latest brand to jump on the "happy marketing" bandwagon, where relentless optimism seems to be working with consumers in categories from food to soda to office supplies. (Parodies are rampant, but backlash seems to be minimal). The "Hello Jell-O" campaign features a "happy appy," where consumers can "help spread the happy" by sharing playful moments through the brand's Facebook page.
Cosby hit the talk show circuit and waded into social media this summer, touting Jell-O and his renewed relationship with the brand. Cosby also promoted the 10-minute OBKB webisodes that aired on UStream. He described them on "The Today Show" as being about "children, laughter and joy."
The giggle tour, handled by the Kraft's agency, Hunter, New York, generated reams of local media coverage in the cities where it landed. "Hello Jell-O," which has a carefree, summery feel, is expected to be a longterm campaign, with no end date set.