April 3rd, 2008

Nestlé Uses Prank to Promote Branded Comedy Network

By Brian Quinton
PROMO Magazine

Nestle Foods said it has shaken off the associations of clumsiness of its Butterfinger brand and re-named itself simply “The Finger.” The re-launch was supported by a distribution of 200,000 free “Finger” bars at 7-Eleven stores in 10 major markets.

The news was actually a gimmick to promote the April Fool‘s Day launch of the branded Butterfinger Comedy Network on the Yahoo Video portal http://ButterfingerComedyNetwork.yahoo.com. And one of the first clips entered on the network was the reaction of people on the street to the purported name change. The verdict: nine against, for obvious reasons of taste, and one for, because “you eat it with your fingers.”

The launch of the comedy channel is being supported with Butterfinger ad takeovers of the front page of Yahoo Video, brand ads on the Yahoo Messenger IM service and new interactive ads across the network of Yahoo content sites.

Visitors to the channel Web site can also upload videos of their own April Fools’ Day pranks or enter their ZIP code too find a nearby participating 7-Eleven that still has stocks of the free “Finger” bars. If stores in their neighborhood are out, a link on the site will take them to eBay Giving Works, where a limited number of the bars are being auctioned off to support a youth charity in Los Angeles

“Butterfinger is a brand that truly celebrates clever, witty humor,” Nestle Confections spokesperson Tricia Bowles said in a statement after the joke was revealed. She added that the prank was “just a taste of what’s to come on this newly launched entertainment site.”

The Butterfinger Comedy Network on Yahoo currently offers about 500 clips, in categories from outtakes and animation to user-generated clips and commercials.

The Butterfinger deal is part of a Yahoo initiative to expand its network of themed video content by letting advertisers become exclusive co-branders of that material. Yahoo currently draws about 36 million monthly viewers to its video content. By contrast, Google-owned YouTube received 80 million unique viewers in January 2008, according to data from comScore. Fox Media Interactive’s MySpace had the second highest monthly traffic count with 53.9 million unique viewers.

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