Communications Planning and Integrated Marketing Communication (With Some Hostess for Dessert)

To sum up Antony Young’s thoughts on communications planning, when compared to media planning, is that “communications planning is less about reaching people than influencing them.” (Young) Communications planning is knowing your audience and connecting with them, rather than telling them what they want to hear. Basically, it is a more well-rounded way for brands to be genuine with their consumers. Brand Media Strategy, with the help of a well-organized Communications Plan, is essentially the key to any brand’s success in today’s age. Young compares two brands that have long been in competition: Coca Cola and Pepsi. One soda brand chose to go with a traditional approach: advertise at the Super Bowl, while another chose not to advertise and, instead, launched a large social media campaign.

When reading this chapter, I was reminded of a specific brand that seemed to have an effective Brand Media Strategy basically fall into their laps…Hostess.

Hostess brand baked goods, saw their demise in late 2012. It caused an uproar among baby boomers who grew up with the snacks all the way to college kids who kept stock for late study nights. Twinkies, and Ding-Dongs were rumored to have been selling on Ebay for upwards of over $100 a box. (Quite the profit from their once $3.99 price!) As Hostess began (temporarily, we later find out) closing its doors, people rushed to the store to stock-up on their sweet treats, tweeting and posting pictures on Facebook, all along the way. The consumers reminisced and helped to sell the products themselves. Because of the company’s fate, this was not an effective communications plan at first, however it promoted positive reactions towards the brand and their products, creating a “feel-good” mood across most major social media outlets. Then, a few months later…Surprise! (Somewhat smaller) Hostess was back on the shelf, initiating another giant sweep of the baked goods shelves at most local groceries. This time, Hostess could use their return as an effective Brand Media Strategy (mainly the “How” function that Young describes in Chapter 3: “How refers to the way media is used to drive the brand messaging harder than and differently from the competition and the way the media is leveraged to create response”). Hostess had an edge to their competing brands: they had been completely off the shelf for 8 months – they were in demand, and advertised as such. Their campaign, “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever” was all that was needed to re-kindle those nostalgic hungry feelings their devoted consumers had felt over the past 80 years. 

According to Dave Lubeck, Executive Vice President of Bernstein-Rein (Hostess’ long-time advertising agency), “The branding is, ‘We’re Back’. Will we evolve the branding in the future? Sure. But right now, while there’s still consumer anticipation around Hostess coming back, we thought, let’s talk about that.” Issie Lapowsky states, “The exact phrasing of the tagline, complete with its incorrect grammar was, Lubeck says, ‘by design’. Because convenience stores are a key market for Hostess and young males are the target demographic for convenience stores, Lubeck explains “We wanted the language to reflect that young attitude and the way young people talk today, especially on social media.” This strategy, along with the mentality that the consumers helped bring Hostess back on the shelf has helped the brand gain over 400,000 likes on Facebook, where consumers posted their plans to take time off from work to grab their fair share of Twinkies and Ding-Dongs as they make their come-back. 

For these new Hostess owners, the Brand Media Strategy revolves around their “Sweet Comeback” which, for now, seems as if the consumers are making it easy-as-pie…

(Below is my reaction to Hostess’ comeback, when I was naive to the fact that the company truly did suffer a large downsize and gained new owners)

Communications Plans and IMC:

In order for communications planners to effectively plan a brand’s influence on their consumers, they need to understand the brand’s impression on consumers in each multimedia outlet. Since the majority of brands do not have the budget to actively reach consumers in all multimedia outlets, the communications planner needs to be mindful of this and develop a strategy to best utilize the outlets suited for them. For instance, a brand that provides more elderly-oriented products may spend more of their budget on TV advertisements and mailers than social media outlets. Like Sir Speedy’s campaign for a dentist company, a brand promoting a health service can be successful across multiple multimedia outlets, dependent on who their audience is. When developing an effective Brand Media Strategy, the communications planner should understand not only their consumer audience, but also their client: the brand. The stakeholders will need an effective measurement strategy to ensure their communications plan is successful. 

 

Lapowsky, I. (2013, July 13). Inside Hostess’s ‘Sweetest Comeback’ Campaign.  . Retrieved May 29, 2014, from http://www.inc.com/issie-lapowsky/inside-hostess-comeback.html

Young, A. (2010). A Shift from Media Planning to Communications Planning.  Brand Media Strategy: Integrated Communications Planning in the Digital Era  (35-48). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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