FOR decades, Nabisco has sold cookies called Social Tea and crackers called Sociables. Now a competitor, Pepperidge Farm, is going all social, too, by entering the increasingly popular field known as social media with a Web site devoted to social networking.You've got to be kidding? Improve their social lives? Cookies?
Pepperidge Farm, owned by the Campbell Soup Company, is introducing a campaign with the theme “Connecting through cookies.” The centerpiece of the campaign is the Web site, artofthecookie.com, which is meant to help women — the target audience for Pepperidge Farm — improve their social lives.
“Our friendships with our girlfriends make our lives so much richer,” proclaims a section of the home page of the Web site. “Visit our new section about keeping those connections strong.”
Sally Horchow, the co-author with Roger Horchow of “The Art of Friendship: 70 Simple Rules for Making Meaningful Connections” (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), has been hired to serve as the spokeswoman for the campaign.
“We started with this notion of wanting to move our communication with our consumers from telling them about us to having a dialogue with them,” said Michael Simon, vice president and general manager at the Pepperidge Farm snacks division in Norwalk, Conn.Still, I see the idea behind it but it still feels forced. And, that's the key to making this type of social-networking project work.
To make possible that shift “to two-way marketing from one-way marketing,” Mr. Simon said, the company conducted ethnographic research by “going into our consumers’ homes, sitting down with them, talking to them about how they use our products.”
During those conversations, “this notion of connection came up again and again,” he added, and how “hectic lifestyles, life in general, has gotten in the way” of women forging and strengthening ties with friends — over, say, a pot of tea and a plate of cookies.
If Pepperidge Farm can present itself to those consumers as the brand that “can help enable connections and reconnect with friends,” Mr. Simon said, “that will be seen in a positive light.”