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Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mike and Ike Broke Up

So, Mike and Ike are apparently dunzo.

The next time you buy a bag of Mike and Ikes, one of the names on the bag will be crossed out. Mike “spends way too much time on his music,” and Ike “spends too much time on graffiti art.” The campaign is supposed to last for a year, after which reconciliation will be revealed – or not.

The packages direct consumers to the Mike and Ike Facebook page, which tells the story, such as it is, of the split (it just says they couldn’t agree about their vision for the candy, so Mike is pursuing music and Ike wants to be an artist). The best section is the employee video section (Gloria in Operations, call me: “I’m gonna miss Mike. Ike … not so much.” Awesome); the celebrity response video is pretty lackluster, and the celebs featured aren’t really household names, at least to me (except for Lamar Odom. Random!). You can also enter a “reaction contest” where you submit your reaction to the split. There’s also a Tumblr, where you can see Ike’s art and read blog posts from both, and it’s a trending topic on Twitter.

This is a clever marketing strategy. In real life there’s no actual Mike or Ike, and this humanizes the brand a bit. I have eaten many Mike and Ike candies in my life, and I have never once given a thought to the back story of the brand – because there was no back story in place, or any mention of one. M&Ms aren’t real either, but the animated versions humanize them and make them fun. And because we still don’t really know who Mike and Ike are – their ages, what they look like, etc. – we can project. (In my head, Mike looks like Theo Spielberg and Ike looks like the lead singer of The Fray. I don’t know.)

The key will be keeping interest alive for a year. Mike and Ikes are … not a very interesting candy, as fruit-flavored candies go. They have longevity on their side – they’ve been around forever – but it’s rare to hear someone say “I could really go for some Mike and Ikes right now.” So it’ll have to be the kind of campaign that ramps up and gradually builds interest, as opposed to mystery. The Hunger Games can just reveal casting tidbits every few months (who will play Finnick?) because the books exist and people already know the stories, but since there IS no back story for Mike and Ike, it’s the job of the marketers to create one – moreso than “they had creative differences.”

By the tone of the blogs, it appears that Mike and Ike are supposed to be young … but they kind of read like someone is trying hard to sound young. “Sick music festivals, dope new songs … even though I’m off rocking and rapping …” it just sounds stilted to me, and I think most teenage consumers will see through it. So the writing will be key.

I don’t know that I’ll follow this campaign day to day, but I might check back in every so often to see what Mike and Ike are up to.

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