Cap’n Crunch Offers a New Definition of Retargeting

The practice of retargeting, or serving Internet surfers ads based on previous online behavior such as pages visited, is synonymous with digital marketing. However, it is possible that retargeting is not limited to online advertising. Cereal brand Cap’n Crunch seems to have created a new twist for what retargeting means. The brand is 50 years old, debuting on stores shelves in 1963. Like many cereal brands, Cap’n Crunch sales have become stale. Competition from private labels and a push to de-emphasize sugary cereals led the brand to the edge of extinction as recently as 2011. Today, Cap’n Crunch appears  to have new energy, and it can thank a new conceptualization of retargeting for it.

So what is this new meaning of retargeting? Cap’n Crunch is turning its marketing efforts to its former users- adults who ate Cap’n Crunch in their younger years. External pressures on cereal marketers to not target children in advertising has created a need to think differently about how to communicate the brand without running afoul of advocacy groups intent on eliminating advertising to children. A late-night Cap’n Crunch talk show will debut on the brand’s YouTube channel on May 7. New content will be added every other week through the summer. The animated show will feature Cap’n Crunch doing mock interviews of celebrities and fictional characters. The character may have the appearance of being for kids, but the content of the Cap’n Crunch Show is aimed squarely at adults.

Any brand fighting for survival is actually in a fight to remain relevant. What audience segment can relate to Cap’n Crunch best? Its former target market- people who enjoyed Cap’n Crunch growing up but moved on to other breakfast options as they got older. Now, Cap’n Crunch hopes to tap feelings of nostalgia among ex-fans and influence them to introduce their children to the brand. Cap’n Crunch sees its best option for maintaining and growing brand relevance resides in trying its own form of retargeting to connect the target audience with their past.

Marketing Daily – “Cap’n Crunch Launches YouTube Talk Show for Adults”

The Past is Never Dead

I was not very productive last week. Fortunately, I know the source of the problem and can address it. But, it really was not my fault that I was distracted from my work. I was attracted to a trend that seems to be sweeping Facebook recently- group pages related to one’s hometown. For me, the page “You might be from West Point, MS if u remember…” was the lure. I noticed the page for a couple of days but did not bother to visit, but when I did I found myself watching a virtual highlight reel of my childhood.

Memories flooded my mind of people, places, and events that made up life in our small town. I eagerly anticipated reading others’ thoughts about their experiences. One of the first thoughts I had as I read posts from others in the group was wondering how long this would last. After all, West Point is a small town- will the group complete its collective historical compilation in a few days or weeks and the group page slowly die? Upon further reflection, I realized this page will not die anytime soon. I thought of the William Faulkner quote from Requiem for a Nun: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”

We hold onto the past- the good and sometimes even the bad, but we hold on. There are a variety of reasons for our affinity with the past: simpler times, youthfulness, relationships, and certainty, to name a few. Given the turmoil of the day, looking back for something positive as an anchor is an understandable tendency.

This longing for the past extends to the relationships we have with brands. Many comments on my hometown’s Facebook group page relayed people’s fond memories of a restaurant, store, or other business in town. Many of the businesses we reminisced about are gone today, but the impact they had on our lives remains.

The power possessed by nostalgia should not be overlooked by marketers. While so much emphasis is placed on innovation, “new and improved,” and technological advances, appealing to consumers’ feelings of nostalgia can be a powerful connector. Proven ideas, products, and campaigns often run their course or evolve, but that does not mean they have to be mothballed never to be seen again.

What do you know, do, or sell that would resonate with your customers’ associations with the past? It is a question worth exploring from time to time because “the past never is never dead- it’s not even past.”

Taking Comfort in the Past: Nostalgia in Advertising

Tough times can trigger a longing for simpler, happier times. Why not? Replacing anxieties about job security and the future with positive feelings from days gone by provide an assurance that many people need today. Those sentiments have found their way into recent marketing campaigns. Whether it be something subtle like Pepsico rolling out limited edition retro packaging for Pepsi and Mtn Dew, or a stronger connection to the past through use of an old ad slogan such as Diet Coke’s “Just for the taste of it,” many ad campaigns today are trying to reach consumers through familiar messages of bygone days.

Is the trend toward nostalgic advertising a gimmick that shows little imagination by advertisers, or is it just what the country needs at this time? Probably neither, but eliciting nostalgic feelings in consumers is a way to engage us comfortably. It is a time in which marketers are unsure exactly what to say. Instilling confidence through familiar, well liked messages is a strategy for maintaining a strong brand presence with consumers. Riding out tough times with customers now could lead to payoffs when better economic conditions return.

Link: The New York Times – “Warm and Fuzzy Makes a Comeback”