20 November 2012 - 7:55am | posted by | 0 comments

The Death of the Twinkie - 'real brands always deserve a second chance' says Brand Keys founder

The Death of the Twinkie - 'real brands always deserve a second chance' says Brand Keys founderThe Death of the Twinkie - 'real brands always deserve a second chance

This week, in America, the almost unthinkable occurred. Hostess Brands, the company behind the American cream-filled sponge cake, the Twinkie, announced that it was to close. Both Twitter and Facebook were the destinations for many a eulogy on the product, but what of the future for the famous brand and its sister products? Robert Passikoff, founder and president of US research consultancy Brand Keys has said that 'real brands' with real emotional buy-in from their customers, will always stand a second chance of survival.

“We’d be willing to bet that when you heard the news, Hostess Brands – the bankrupt maker of Twinkies, Wonder Bread, and Ding Dongs – was shutting down production, you either made the sound, “awwww,” or at least thought it,” commented Passikoff

“You probably thought about how Wonder Bread helped ‘build strong bodies 12 ways,’ and their familiar red, yellow, and blue polka dot packaging. And how your mother always had the blue box with the red lettering, ‘Twinkies,’ in the cupboard for after-school snacks. Without much thought you can probably remember the mouth-feel of the marshmallow-cocoanut frosting of a Sno Ball. So the years of management infighting, labour costs and pension problems notwithstanding, the disappearance of these products brings into sharp relief the aspect of ‘brand.’”

Passikoff continued to explain his belief of the meaning of the word ‘brand’, stating it to be something that people know but also feel and emotional bond with, something that generations have developed with a brand such as the Twinkie over its 82 year life span.

“If you’re known, but not known for anything in particular then you’re just a brand “placeholder.” Your production and financial wherewithal buys you a space in the category, and that’s pretty much it. Even with that, you’re probably struggling to keep up with the real brands,” he added.

“So although the Hostess Company may not be around, it’s very likely that their brands will live on in another holding company’s product roster because these day real brand are getting rarer than honest congressmen,” predicted Passikoff. “That “awwww” was the sound of a shared past, something in which consumers find great comfort in knowing brands like that are always there for them.

“Or getting great comfort from just knowing that it’s still there someplace. It transcends nostalgia and moves into the realm of emotional engagement and, sometimes, cultural iconology, despite all the Zombieland movie jokes. And for all the Maslow hierarchy chatter, it doesn’t get much stronger than that.”

He concluded by stating that ‘real brands’ will always have a second chance, especially where high engagement and loyalty are involved, adding that in customers are ‘six times more likely’ to give such a brand another go.

“Despite all the jokes about Twinkies’ having a shelf-life of forever, ‘forever’ is a word that tastes real good to real brands.”

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