Grey Poupon’s Retro & Real-Time Work Is Oscar Winner

Blending retro TV with a twist and real time marketing, classic Kraft mustard brand Grey Poupon was a surprise marketing winner at the 2013 Oscars.


The premium mustard brand, and its agency Crispin Porter+Bogusky, revived its classic ‘Pardon me’ commercials which first aired more than 30 years ago with an updated ad.


The original series, which began back in 1981 and was created by Lowe, was one of those rare commercials that sufficiently connected with contemporary socio-cultural themes that it made enough of an impression in popular culture that it is still widely and fondly remembered today.


The classic creative typically saw one wealthy man in a chauffeur driven limo pull up next to another and ask ‘Pardon me, but do you have any Grey Poupon?’.



Maintaining the same core funny, nostalgic approach funny (and featuring a John Cleese look-a-like), the Academy Awards two-minute spot picks up where the 80s ads ended and the first man happily shares his mustard with the other. But the modern twist is that the second man isn’t nearly as polite and speeds off with the mustard jar – a chase ensues.


A clichéd film trailer over dramatic voice-over narrates, while the drama unfolds with explosions, jousts and shooting.



The spot aired just before the end of the show


Leveraging The 85th Oscars ceremony’s 40m-strong US audience on ABC’s three hour broadcast, with 30-second spots costing $1.7m each, the spot aired at the end of the show.


This end-of-broadcast position was deliberate, as at the end of the commercial itself viewers were encouraged to visit GreyPoupon.com and watch ‘The Lost Footage’ of the ad (which showed what happened after the condiment was eventually handed over).


These online viewers were further motivated to watch the spot again and share it via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest in order to win prizes.


The campaign also featured the hashtag ‘#PardonMe’, one of just a handful of Academy Award ads that used social signals




This is actually the third generation of Grey Poupon ads on the theme – the second time the core approach has been tweaked.



Like the Super Bowl, US consumers (and the media) are increasingly interested in discussing the commercials in these major events and almost consider them part of the show’s entertainment mix. Thus, the Oscars, like the Super Bowl, sees consumers simultaneously comment on the ads across their social media platforms.


Post Oscars data suggests the latest ‘retro with a twist’ strategy was a major hit with social media consumers – particularly Gen Xers.


According to digital researchers Networked Insights, the campaign saw the brand receive four times the number of social media conversations compared to its daily average.


The Kraft brand is reported to have been suffering from flagging sales in recent years. This modernist revival might just breathe new life in to the brand.


It’s not strictly sponsorship, but the ways US brands use commercials during blockbuster TV events (such as The Oscars and The Super Bowl) and then activate around these platforms to create major campaigns shares many strategic and tactical similarities to sponsorship activation.


Other brands taking this approach at the 2013 Oscars include Samsung and JC Penny.


There is much sponsorship professionals can learn from these initiatives!


Particularly the tactical model of initially capturing an event audience through TV and then continuing to tell the story on a second screen/site where the added engagement converts viewers into new fans and followers online.


An interesting aspect is that by buying the initial ad at the end of the show/event/broadcast, taking the viewer to a second screen and a follow-on engagement does not distract them away from the core passion content that drew them in the first place. In this case The Oscars, but the principle works the same for a football match or a music concert.


This certainly seems like a more mature, more rounded and more long-term strategic approach to real time social media marketing than those brands which leverage big events through social media with catchy copy or pictures.


These are increasingly little more than banal, interruptive ‘winners tributes’, ‘personal congratulations’ or ‘spurious connections between the event and the brand/product’ which the marketers somehow hope will go viral.


The objective and success of event-led real time marketing surely should be something more fundamental than valuable than a few retweets and some free media coverage?


Surely marketers need to start thinking that if they don’t have a long term strategy, or can’t produce something brilliantly innovative or genuinely brand relevant, then the trend for vanilla real time twitter marketing in the form of a simple tweet or two might already be coming to an end.


There has been much discussion in the marketing media about Oscar Meyer’s clever, short term tactical decision to take the top bid on the #OscarsRTM hashtag, but it only got around 700 retweets.




Grey Poupon Lost Footage Website



Grey Poupon Facebook



Grey Poupon YouTube Channel



Academy Awards Website



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