The Super Bowl will be quickly upon us -- and with it a bevy of head-scratching corporate tie-ins. We were, admittedly, caught off-guard by this big-game ad campaign from Wheat Thins.
Our confusion starts right at the beginning. The campaign is titled "Must Have Wheat Thins." Now, nothing against Wheat Thins, but have they ever been a "must-have" item? Has there ever been a situation in which only Wheat Thins would do? Or, more basically, have they ever, truly, been something one needs? Life, liberty, and the pursuit of Wheat Thins?
The confusion continues with the campaign's setup. Basically, whichever fan base flogs Wheat Thins more on social media will result in 1,000 free deliveries of Wheat Thins to San Francisco or Baltimore. So, what is "winning" here? Getting the Wheat Thins? Or not getting the Wheat Thins?
When the Wheat Thin people say, "Show us why your city must have Wheat Thins," aren't we entering a whiner-take-all contest? It harks to the primordial game show Queen For a Day, in which put-upon women attempted to outdo one another with tales of woe and misery in order to win the crown. Attempting to justify why San Francisco "must" have a bag of snack crackers more than Baltimore, or vice versa, seems to be a contest one wins by losing.
The 1,000 "grand prizes" are packages of 10 Wheat Thins boxes, which will be delivered on Feb. 3, Super Bowl Sunday, between 2 and 11 p.m. local time. Ten boxes of Wheat Thins is a lot of Wheat Thins; it could soon develop into a lifetime supply. Also, depending upon whether one's preferred team wins, a late-night delivery of a metric shitload of snack crackers will be either an inadequate celebratory accessory or the dry, dusty taste of defeat. There is no middle ground.
Finally, the street value of this grand prize is $36.69. At what point is it worth waiting for hours in one place to receive $37 worth of crackers rather than spending the money and going on with the day? If you shoehorn the 2-to-11 slot out of your day and pass up other opportunities, you may be shortchanging yourself, Wheat Thins or no.
Finally, it warrants mentioning that Wheat Thins is spending $36,690 on its nationwide grand prize, plus the price of delivery and whatever it costs to establish a webpage and run a social media campaign. In comparison, Super Bowl TV ads cost up to $4 million for 30 seconds. You could buy 11,000 boxes of Wheat Thins for that.
Leave it to Wheat Thins to conceive and execute an ad campaign that is to ad campaigns what Wheat Thins is to food.