Mindshare Video: What a CIA Agent and Pasta Mascot Have in Common

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On this episode of Culture Vulture Live we’re talking about a trend we’ve been following at Mindshare called Informal Normal.  Over time, American traditions have continued to break down and have less formal interpretations, including those in politics, fashion and the digital realm.  Brands that have strong equity in their categories occasionally need to step beyond their positioning to refresh consumers’ perceptions in unexpected ways.

The Central Intelligence Agency is tasked with gathering, processing and analyzing national security information from around the world.  In 2014, they joined Twitter.  No one knew what to expect, as the majority of the work they do is either classified or not terribly interesting to an average audience.  Last week, they shared the story of Lulu -- a puppy in their explosive detection training program who was far from a straight A student. They explained the training program and what happens to dogs who flunk out of detection school.  Don’t worry -- they are put up for adoption, and are often taken home by their handlers.  Lulu’s main job these days is to hold the couch down. 

Another example can be found with Hamburger Helper, the packaged food brand that contains pre-measured pasta and spices that a consumer just needs to add protein to at home.  The brand has more than 33,000 followers on Twitter and has been interjecting itself into audience conversations, with great results.  One user tweeted “PSA: Knowing how to mix Hamburger Helper doesn't make you wife material.”  The brand amplified this, with the reply “And this makes you husband material?”. The tweet garnered more than 289,000 likes -- not bad for an oven mitt! 

Naturally, it’s always important for brands to align with their core DNA.  But brands should also consider relaxing their approach and going one step beyond their positioning to integrate surprise content into their asset mix.  This can be very effective, as consumers are increasingly irreverent -- 77 percent agree that they “like to live their lives by their own standards, and not by others.”

For more information on the latest in adaptive marketing please visit Mindshareintheloop.com.

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