Thanks to social media and the interconnectivity of modern society, we live in a world of trending topics, people, events and, of course, food. From the rise of avocado toast to the annual reintroduction of the McRib, the public at large is aware of, and often follows, trends whether they realize it or not. Tapping into the power of those trends creates opportunities for your brand to create a buzz, get people talking and benefit from earned media coverage.
King Cake Baby Banned By Facebook
Each year, the Fridge family takes part in a significant food trend that is unique to its home state of Louisiana — king cakes. King Cake Snob was started in 2016 as a way of promoting the different bakeries, brands and styles of king cakes found around Louisiana. The community project allowed enthusiasts of the delectable treats to rank their favorite cakes and bakeries, as well as their favorite types in the “plain” and “filled” categories. Over the years, the competition has garnered significant media coverage for the company and king cakes in general, but this year presented us with an opportunity to go further than past competitions.
Those who are familiar with king cakes know that each cake contains a plastic baby, and the person finding the baby in their slice is required to purchase the next cake for the group. Fridge posted a photo of the plastic babies in an advertisement on Facebook to promote the competition. Shockingly, Facebook removed the photo after only a few hours, saying the ad violated its policy on “excessive nudity.” Aside from the initial outrage over Facebook’s censoring of a simple plastic baby, an image well-known to anyone who has seen or heard of king cakes, the Fridge team saw an opportunity to promote the King Cake Snob brand.
For at least the last year, Facebook’s censorship and ad management issues have been a major focus of both local and national news outlets. Using the knowledge of this media trend, Fridge developed a press release, along with creative imagery featuring a blurred out king cake baby and one wearing clothing (Facebook branded, of course), and sent the materials out to media nationwide.
From there, the story went from a simple adjustment to Fridge’s ad strategy to a national scandal. Outlets like FOX News, Yahoo!, Southern Living, Food & Wine, Vice and many others published reports and discussed Facebook’s censorship during their broadcasts—turning a small, localized king cake ranking competition into a national figure in the fight against censorship.
Stories like this happen all the time, and it takes professionals who have their finger on the pulse and have the ability to visualize the potential brand connection in every trending media or industry topic to see the possibilities. If a news story breaks tomorrow, particularly as it pertains to the food and beverage industry, you should think about how your brand relates to the issue and if there is potential for developing a public relations effort around the emerging trend.
Tips for Harnessing the Power of Trending Topics
Here are some tips for harnessing the power of trends and topics of the day to earn coverage for your brand:
- Follow food and industry bloggers, personalities and reporters to stay up-to-date with their predictions on emerging trends and topics
- Read the major headlines of the day to find and make a list of some of the more heavily trending topics of the week, month and year
- Go through your list and check off topics and trends that may apply to your brand
- Connect the topics/trends to your brand by developing a unique media story angle (you can also research other brands’ usage of the trends to spark inspiration)
- Make sure the angle you select is timely, relevant and cohesively connects to the trend you want and communicate these facts in all media outreach
- Research reporters covering the trends and topics you have selected and compile a list to ensure you are targeting the correct media contacts in your outreach
- Create media materials (i.e., press releases, email media pitches, media advisories, guest op-eds/letters to the editor, etc.) and distribute to target media contacts
- Distribute media materials and continuously pitch reporters for coverage of the story idea
If you stay informed and follow these steps, you can generate more publicity and positive awareness for your brand than you ever thought possible!
Morgan Wampold, Account Leader