Barter and Brands

It all started with a red paperclip. On July 12, 2005, Kyle MacDonald, posted a picture of a red paperclip on his blog and in the barter section of craigslist and asked if anyone wanted to make a trade with him for something bigger or better. A few days later he traded the paperclip for a pen shaped like a fish.  Then he traded the pen for a doorknob.  And so on, each time trading for something bigger or better. After 14 trades he finally wound up with a house!

(Image: Source)

Along the way he went on to win some great media attention, wrote a book about the adventure, went on to hold a Guinness World Record for the Most Successful Internet Trade, got featured in TV shows, shared stage with celebrities and even had commercials shot based on his story!

All because of one red paperclip and a bit of weird ingenuity! 

During September 2012, Oscar Mayer – a processed meat brand from Kraft Foods launched a new line of its bacons called Butcher Thick Cut bacon. Understandably, as part of its launch campaign, the Oscar Mayer marketing team wanted to communicate that this is the new ‘Gold Standard’ in bacons and worth its weight in gold! But in order to cut through the existing clutter they went on to develop an imaginative way to promote the bacon keeping with its Campaign Idea. It’s called – here’s the ‘deal’:

Josh Sankey – the actor/comedian was roped in to be the man with a mission and a trailer full of ‘bad-ass bacon’ for barter as he drove from NY to LA. See his ‘offer’ here:

The highlights of his ‘journey’ were made available live via a dedicated Twitter Feed, YouTube Channel, Instagram channel , facebook page and PR all tied in to a well designed website. Stats like Josh Sankey’s real time location, the number of bacon blocks he had left with him, the bacon exchange rate at any given point in time were all made available through the site lending the campaign a very realistic feel.

After a couple of days he succesfully completed the drive from NY to LA and pooled in interesting (and in many instances very realistic) accounts of his ‘bacon barter’ across the country. And from the looks of it, this seems to have been a very successful and an innovative launch campaign for the brand in the States.

Amusingly, around the same time as Oscar Mayer’s BaconBarter, Heineken embarked on a campaign along very similar lines. It’s called Heineken Passport:

This campaign by Iris Singapore, consists of 4 webisodes documenting Justin’s journey from Mangolia to Thailand with “no money, no maps but just Heineken”. It also had a Facebook application named The Heineken Passport, that gets you to share the journey to win points, giving you the chance to win a journey to Sensation Taiwan for you and 3 friends. See the first of its 4 webisodes here:

(See all the 4 webisodes here)

While I must admit that this execution lent itself to the idea of Heineken Opening Your World, it definitely lacks the feel of realism and drama that Oscar Mayer managed to capture through its ‘BaconBarter’ campaign. For starters, what are the chances that in the inner Mangolian region, while wandering along some random fields you stop a tractor chugging along and successfully manage to make a barter deal with the locals by communicating in just English?

Nevertheless, it was very interesting for me to discover these 2 campaigns being executed along very similar lines (at around the same time) while also comparing and contrasting their executional specifics.

Which execution did you like?

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