Mike and Ike’s ‘Breakup’ Lifted Sales and Social

Launches integrated campaign after a year of fake-split narrative

For the last year, boxes of Mike and Ike have appeared in stores with either "Mike" or "Ike" scribbled over, as the 72-year-old candy item hoped to create social media buzz and foster resonance among teens. The packaging reflected a narrative the brand put out in the blogosphere that involved Mike and Ike being fictional business partners who had gone their separate ways for creative reasons.

Well, in a new integrated campaign launching today (more on that later), the two characters have decided to work together again. But much more importantly, the ploy worked wonders for sales and social, per marketers for the Just Born property. They say the brand had its best sales growth year during 2012—7.2 percent—in a decade.

As Donald Houston, senior marketing manager for Mike and Ike, told Adweek: "The goal was to make the brand current and relevant with teens, which are very focused on social. We almost tripled our number of Facebook fans to just under one million."

Houston's team debuted a branded Twitter account one year ago, while seeing it organically grow to 2,500 followers (including Barack Obama, interestingly).

For the next four months, the Mike and Ike brand will be all over digital and traditional media in a campaign led by New England-based shops Nail Communications and The Elevator Group.

Beginning on Wednesday, display ads will appear via Facebook and numerous other publisher sites. A relaunched website includes a social media stream for the brand's tweets and Instagram account. It also entails a one-minute, 50-second video that tells the story about how Mike and Ike split up and got back together. (Despite some reports, Bethlehem, Pa.-based Just Born says the male characters' storyline wasn't meant to suggest a romantic relationship. Ike explored hip-hop, and Mike dove into his art projects, as the narrative goes.) Additionally, a Tumblr account has been created for the initiative.

In June, national cable TV commercials (see one movie-trailer-styled spot below) and radio ads will begin running, targeting teens and young adults. Meanwhile, billboard ads will go up in major markets during the coming weeks. Lastly, the candy has a new packaging design to replace the one it has used for decades.

Houston has high hopes, stating, "Excitement around the brand has never been higher."

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