Twinkies lead the way

June 13, 2007, 3:46 PM UTC

box_twinkies.jpgNews today comes from the Associated Press that, after two generations in which its signature semi-foodstuff, the Twinkie, was filled with vanilla creme, Hostess will revert to the original taste for the squishy center of the indestructible edible, and inject the whisper of banana.

“The company was finally persuaded to make the flavor part of its lineup for good after Hostess offered it for four weeks last year for the release of the movie ‘King Kong’,” the AP reports. “Total Twinkie sales jumped 20 percent during the promotion.”

I’m sorry my mother and father never saved an original Twinkie from the 1930s. The treat was filled with the now-returning Kong-happy goodness until World War II, when the war in the East limited the supply of bananas. From that time forth, the sad and somehow slightly diminished Twinkie center was relegated to the sweet vanilla puddinglike substance we all know so well. I’m sure if they had secreted one away on some shelf somewhere, it would still be around in my family archives right now, just as plump, “fresh” and tasty as it was three generations ago. Twinkies have real staying power.

Hostess’s success in re-introducing something unique and great shows the power of cross-marketing in our impression-saturated culture. The thought process goes like this:

1. I want to see a movie most weekends.
2. This weekend, I’d like to see that third remake of King Kong.
3. When I was a kid I liked King Kong.
4. I remember when I was a kid and liked King Kong I also used to like Twinkies.
5. Gee, look. Twinkies is associated somehow with King Kong right now.
6. They have a new creamy center that has a taste King Kong would love.
7. I like King Kong. King Kong would like the new Twinkie. I might like it too.
8. I gotta go out and see the movie with one of them new Twinkies.
9. Wow, that was good. In fact, the Twinkie was better than the movie.
10. I’m going out to tell my friends about that new Twinkie.

See? It’s pretty easy. But you’ve got to get it right. A crossover, for instance, between Cartier and the new Fantastic Four movie, which features Marvel‘s Silver Surfer, might be less successful, because it misunderstands the specific psychographics and demographics of the target audience of each consumable.

Marketing marches on, however. And in this case we all are the beneficiaries.

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