Americans faced a crisis of apocalyptic proportions recently as the Twinkie faced extinction. So distraught were we about the Hostess Brands’ bankruptcy that we blogged about it in November. However, it was not only the thought of life without Twinkies that caught our imagination, but Hostess Brands’ use of the Twinkie’s iconic status to power a strategic public relations campaign that deflected the media glare away from the intense political debate surrounding who was to blame for the bankruptcy.
So successful was this campaign that the nation’s favorite sweet treat was elevated to being an almost essential commodity, akin to that of clean water or oil. And while Twinkies might not have been on the shelves, they were certainly in the news, as numerous firms lined up to buy Hostess Brands.
It was private equity firms Apollo Group Management and Metropoulos & Co. that won out, snapping up the majority of Hostess Brands’ snack business – including CupCakes, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos – for $410 million. This week, it was confirmed that all of these snacks will be returning to stores across the US.
The Hostess comeback is not all sweetness and light amidst the potential job losses and wage cuts, but it does serve as a timely reminder of how important it is for companies to maintain a strong, concerted PR effort both during and after a storm of bad publicity if they are to minimize the impact on their brand. The most effective communications campaigns are also designed to restore a battered reputation in the eyes of all constituents.
Hostess is using its current PR effort to expand its customer base, launching the #CakeFace Campaign, which encourages individuals to submit pictures of themselves pretending to eat cake. Though this might seem a tad juvenile, it is aimed at a younger generation that has yet to grow up with its snacks. It has also announced that the Twinkie will have a longer shelf life, feeding into the decades old perception that the only thing that would survive the apocalypse is a Twinkie.
Having successfully been brought back from the brink, Twinkies are now reported to be flying off the shelves. Panic not however. Hostess has conveniently provided a Locator should this blog have whetted your appetite.