A former marketing executive at a large biscuit company has revealed that last year’s introduction of “New Shapes” was just an elaborate ploy to boost sales of the original flavours. The confession came as part of a panel Q&A at a recent marketing convention in Adelaide, where the executive was asked to name the most edgy and high-risk campaign he had been involved in.
Last year, the biscuit company in question launched new recipes for a range of biscuit flavours that had been pantry staples for generations of Australian families. The wild consumer backlash forced the company to reinstall a number of the flavours to their original recipes, while continuing to sell the new recipes. However, as the some of the new recipes have started to disappear from supermarket shelves, industry insiders had grown increasingly suspicious of the whole campaign.
The unnamed marketing executive said during the recent Q&A, “we’d seen the kind of traction received by other popular Aussie brands when news came out that they might be going out of business. For example, Golden Gaytime ice creams and Chokito chocolate bars. In the current social media climate, consumers can easily throw their support behind a brand despite the fact they haven’t purchased from that company for over a decade. We identified that the pull of nostalgia easily overrides the lack of regular custom for a brand, and saw numerous cases where clicktivists gave incredibly valuable exposure on social media to brands and products that were otherwise dying a slow death.
“After reflecting on this phenomenon, we decided to try a bold strategy: we’d pull the most popular recipes off the shelves, replace them with inferior recipes, and then sit back in our Bondi and South Yarra apartments to watch the social media shit storm as outraged consumers rallied against this injustice. The resulting brand exposure on all of the social media platforms gave Shapes the boost that it desperately needed. Soon after, we reintroduced the original recipes and watched as people purchased the originals in vastly higher numbers than we had seen in the last six to seven years. At first it was seen as a risky strategy, but in hindsight it was a no brainer.”