Red Vines: A Case Study On How To Market Something That Everyone Already Likes

As a bona fide lover of Red Vines*, I found the Red Vines World of Sharing social media promotion quite intruiging. Essentially you go to the site, gain access by logging in or connecting with Facebook, and you then leave a note about Red Vines or sharing or kittens or whatever. After every few notes they run a contest to give away licorice or a similar prize and the stated goal is to cover the world in Red Vines, at least symbolically. Aside from the “shilling for licorice” angle, it seems they did a good job of mixing a few important aspects of social media marketing including, but not limited to, offering prizes and accepting the risk of a flood of penis jokes if 4chan gets ahold of their site.

Candy manufacturers have it hard. You really can’t say much more about Red Vines than has been already passed down through generations by word of mouth. They also know that this cohort of parents is pretty down on candy and that these same parents also flails around on Facebook a lot. Putting two and two together, you see, makes a social media marketing plan and that’s what Red Vines did. By attempting this goofy, odd stunt, they reminded me, at least, to go buy some Red Vines.

To do this they’ve resorted to asking their potential customers to do the marketing for them. This is fairly common in this sort of brand awareness excercise. For example, you’ll recall an ill-advised but fun effort by Skittles to get people to tweet about them. Essentially you could Tweet anything you wanted and it whould appear on the Skittles front page. That’s just asking for trouble. Whenever you let someone type something on your front page, you’re essentially saying “Let a thousand penis jokes bloom.”

But we’re talking about candy here, so why would people be mean? That’s what Red Vines is hoping: that by calling this the “World of Sharing” and bringing in some Taoist connectedness into the equation, people will say nice things and they’ll think about licorice, probably in that order.

Red Vines partnered with Dentsu America to launch this product and it will be “officially” live tomorrow at 8am. It uses Google Maps over a complex Flash interface to get the job done and is pretty dead right now, which gives you guys an excellent ground floor opportunity to really run amok in the social media convo on the site tomorrow. That said, do you think stuff like this works or is too gimmicky? While I lean towards “gimmicky,” it’s at least nice to see a venerated (or at least venerable) brand jump head first into this briar patch. There are plenty of folks trying this sort of thing and failing. It is my opinion that this is one of the better examples of online marketing I’ve seen in quite a while.

* What are Red Vines? Red Vines are a type of licorice. They are red and hollow and taste almost like cherry pop (I know that won’t help anyone who hasn’t tasted either). Red Vines are far superior to Twizzlers and it is my opionion that even “real” licorice from places like Europe is sub par in comparison to the strangely sweet/bubbly effervescent taste of Red Vines. The fact that they come in a huge box at Target further adds to their value in my eyes. It has been proven that Red Vines and Mr. Pibb are crazy delicious.