FIVE THINGS TO KNOW THIS WEEK
This week’s hot takes and hot topics in experiential marketing cover a Victorian-era peep show, interstellar invitations and the potential demise of Camp Jeep.
POP-TARTS EATS CHEEZ-IT’S DUST
You’ve heard of the streaming wars. How about the CPG mascot wars? For the many consumers who aren’t aware that Pop-Tarts and Cheez-It are both owned by Kellogg’s, some on-the-field antics from both brands’ mascots over the last week have caused quite a stir on social.
In its debut as presenting sponsor of the Pop-Tarts Bowl, the notoriously quirky brand created an end-of-game spectacle featuring an “edible” mascot named Strawberry who was lowered into and “baked” inside a larger-than-life toaster installation. When the mascot was sufficiently warmed, the toaster dispensed an actual human-size Pop-Tart that players could break apart and eat. Macabre? Hell yes. Buzz-worthy? Same.
But this is a “war” we’re talking about. And Cheez-It was seemingly determined to one-up its fellow snack brand at the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl just four days later. In this scenario, the Cheez-It mascot, Ched-Z, danced atop a gigantic snack box while holding a “Non-Edible Mascot” sign.
They may fall under the same company umbrella, but as one social media user put it, “The Strawberry Pop-Tart walked so the Cheez-It could run.”
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‘TRUE DETECTIVE’ FANS MELT FOR FROZEN BILLBOARDS
With a highly anticipated fourth season of “True Detective” on the horizon, HBO invited fans in Los Angeles (on Jan. 7) and New York (on Jan. 8) to get pumped up for the show’s new chapter, set in Alaska, with the help of its “frozen billboards.” The installations invited passersby to “uncover the truth beneath the ice,” and featured visible clues underneath, like a parka, gloves and winter boots.
When the ice began to melt, Max took a chainsaw to the billboard to remove the trapped items and reveal a strange symbol and clue related to the new season: “How scared do you have to be to run out in the ice without any shoes?” Brand ambassadors handed out business-size cards with the same symbol and message, along with a QR code linking to a custom Instagram filter that “trapped” the user under ice.
Automotive trade shows have seen some major shifts in recent years, and 2024 could shape up to be another year of change. Stellantis, which owns brands including Jeep, Ram, Chrysler and Fiat, has announced its departure from the Chicago Auto Show in February, which the company has historically considered an activation tentpole (the automaker is also ditching CES and the Super Bowl this year). The move was part of a budget-saving tactic, according to a public statement, and while Stellantis didn’t say it outright, it’s likely a response to the United Auto Workers strike. The decision also poses an important question: Is this the death of Camp Jeep?
VISITLEX INVITES ALIENS TO SIP BOURBON AND RIDE HORSES
Former military officials reported the existence of non-human “biologics” at UFO crash sites during a Congressional hearing last year, followed by NASA’s appointment of a UAP (unidentified aerial phenomena) research director. Naturally, extraterrestrial life presents a new demographic for marketers. So, not to be outdone by MoonPie’s OOH stunts and hunt for an “alien-fluencer,” Lexington, KY-based tourism org VisitLEX is working on wooing otherworldly beings to its bluegrass-covered landscape with an interstellar campaign aimed straight at ’em.
It all began at Kentucky Horse Park, where VisitLEX and a team of Lexington scientists and scholars used an infrared laser to beam a “coded invitation” to aliens in the TRAPPIST-1 solar system—about 40 light years away, meaning it’ll be quite some time before these potential customers get the memo. A microsite featuring a countdown, snarky comments from scientists and an extraterrestrial’s guide to Lexington (the “horse capital of the galaxy”) is also in the mix.
Photo credit: VisitLEX
SEARCHLIGHT PICTURES SEDUCES NEW YORKERS
Ahead of the “Poor Things” film premiere, Searchlight Pictures pulled back the curtain on a “Salon of Seduction” at Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, NY, that catered to a sold-out crowd of attendees over the age of 21. The experience featured a live theatrical production inspired by Victorian-era peep shows that included three separate acts: science, pleasure and beauty.
On the exterior, the salon was decorated in taxidermy, mementos from main character Bella’s journey and portraits from the film itself. Inside, attendees met the “madame,” host and dancers. Our favorite aspect? Guests were given “Poor Things” currency to exchange for special “surprises” along the way. Ooh la la.
Each act entailed a dramatic interpretation of the film’s key themes, paired with a culinary offering, including an oyster tasting, sweet pastry topped with gold flakes and craft cocktails from Fords Gin. As the third act wrapped, attendees received a personalized photo and a goodie bag filled with exclusive “Poor Things” sunglasses, as well as lipsticks from Pat McGrath. More than 1,000 consumers ended up taking a peep.
Fans who couldn’t make it to the show could find themselves “seduced” on the streets of NYC and L.A. from Dec. 8-10 via mobile branded coffee carts dishing out handcrafted beverages, light bites and exclusive swag. (Agency: NVE Experience Agency)
Photos: Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures