If you’re not following Steak-umm on Twitter yet, you should get on that.
The Quaker Maid frozen sandwich steak brand’s amusingly strange account—which described itself to Adweek as a cross between Nihilist Arby’s, SpongeBob, Joe Rogan and Rick Sanchez—has amassed just 4,593 followers as of this writing. But that is sure to skyrocket as its @MoonPie-esque antics become more widely known—and its desperate yet goofy campaign to get Twitter-verified gathers steam.
What does @steak_umm post about on Twitter? Mostly beef, and beef-related inspirational talk, and random stream-of-consciousness humor, often signed with the cryptic phrase “Steak-umm bless”:
Part of @steak_umm’s weird appeal is that it feels thrown together and supremely uncalculated. It even pretends not to really understand Twitter:
But it understands Twitter well enough to want to get verified, and have that blue check mark as a seal of approval. Recently, it launched a #VerifySteakUmm campaign, which provides fodder for lots of underdog-style tweets:
It’s even been pestering @jack directly, supposedly:
Cynics might assume @steak_umm is staying unverified on purpose, as a marketing ploy to get attention. Not true, says @steak_umm, which says it’s reached out to Twitter many times and just hasn’t heard back:
Besides, it has other, stupider marketing strategies to focus on:
That last strategy—trolling other brands—is one @steak_umm employs regularly. It often name-checks other offbeat brand accounts, hoping to draft off their success:
And it’s worked, to a degree. Along the way, @steak_umm has developed a small but devoted fan base, a kind cult following. Even @dril got on board recently:
So, what’s the real story behind @steak_umm?
Turns out it’s the work of Allebach Communications, an agency in the Philadelphia suburbs that’s been working with Steak-umm parent Quaker Maid Meats (based up the road in Reading, Pa.) for the past two years—crafting offbeat ads like the one below.
Allebach account director Jesse Bender tells us the agency was given the green light in August to start managing the @steak_umm Twitter account. The goal was to begin a dialogue with consumers and create a community.
Within a month, the account got some traction thanks to some back-and-forths with William Shatner and a few other celebrities. Steam-umm was also mentioned on Joe Rogan’s 1,000th podcast episode, leading to engagements with comedians Joey Diaz, Doug Benson and Brian Redban. But momentum really shifted in October, when @steak_umm got involved with a Twitter group called “twinja,” which is derived from the blogging site kinja.
“Almost overnight we had a few hundred new, very enthusiastic followers that were generating content and promoting our page,” says Bender. “We made it a point to create authentic relationships with each of them so they knew they weren’t being tricked by a marketing scheme.”
At the end of October, after making sure the page met all requirements for verification, they launched #VerifySteakUmm. They were denied five months in a row, with no explanation, says Bender.
“Once we started posting about this, people got on board. Everyone loves an underdog,” Bender says. “By November, the page had taken off.”
The brand has also ramped up its tweet volume significantly—154 tweets in August, 381 in September, 598 in October, and a whopping 3,604 in November.
Allebach’s approach to @steak_umm isn’t revolutionary. Lots of brand accounts adopt a freewheeling voice on Twitter. But @steak_umm’s voice is particularly refreshing and disarming—certainly more Nihilist Arby’s than Wendy’s or Denny’s. On a site where brands are routinely ridiculed for trying to sound hip, @steak_umm has managed to win over even most cynics—no small feat, and a testament to its sincere efforts at community building.
Mostly it’s about acting more like an eccentric yet friendly person than a brand, while recognizing, too, that it is a brand. This is why the verification stunt is so clever. The account is caught between being official and unofficial, and it plays that tension perfectly.