April 13th, 2009
When Oatmeal Speaks
Go humans go. This ad greeted me Monday morning as I exited the subway in DUMBO. It found me in Chinatown too. I was intrigued and a bit startled. I assumed it was part of a larger campaign, but this was the first Id seen. Go humans go
to me, it had Martian undertones. And that Quaker man! He hasnt changed much over the years.
Im keen on oatmeal and was curious to understand what the slogan meant. So I found the site. The only mention of Go Humans Go is in the URL and page title. The focus is the Quaker Go Project, a hunger fighting initiative. The usual conversation starters YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter are there, though they sit at the bottom of the page, like neglected banana candies. Regardless, I wanted to see what Quaker had to say, so I went to Twitter to follow @QuakerTalk, whose bio reads:
Go Humans Go!
Responses monitored and updated by Quakers PR team & oatmeal fans!
Including fans seems a little hokey in an otherwise transparent bio, no? But anyway heres the conversation, word for word:
QuakerTalk Monday, 12:07pm
@QuakerTalk: Kicking off the week with a hot bowl of Quaker Oats
My reply Monday, 1:48pm
@jeccaberta: @QuakerTalk starting my week with oats too! mccann’s or quaker…decision time.
QuakerTalks response Monday, 2:03pm
@QuakerTalk: @jeccaberta Definitely Quaker! Have a great week
(I chose McCanns but didnt tell them)
Me, attempting to start a new conversation Monday, 2:41pm
@jeccaberta: @QuakerTalk i miss the wilford brimley oatmeal commercials of yesteryear.
(No response from @QuakerTalk. Disappointment.)
Me, attempting to start convo #3 Tuesday, 3:33pm
@jeccaberta: @QuakerTalk question…are steel cut oats more nutritious than instant?
QuakerTalk’s reply Tuesday, 4:49pm
@QuakerTalk: @jeccaberta: the nutritionals are the same, but they do offer a heartier texture and a rich nutty taste
I enjoyed this one-on-one dialogue, but thats not what Twitter is good at or really designed for. So what unique value can a brand offer on Twitter? Ive been looking at @QuakerTalks tweets over the past couple weeks. Some are upbeat thoughts (Gearing up for a great Friday Go humans go!), others promote their hunger fighting efforts (Submit a Quaker Go Grant and get involved in your community today! Check out the details here http://bit.ly/S55MW). Id like to see more stuff like that, especially if they can use Twitter to galvanize support. Itll also provide some context for their slogan.
But in terms of engagement, I think Quakers Twitter presence would be way more effective if they spoke in a unique voice, say oh, that of a Quaker man from the 1800s? Think about it. His truth-dispensing tweets could be mighty entertaining. What other company has as its spokesman a hugely recognizable fellow in Quaker attire? That alone leaves plenty to talk about. Why hasnt he changed with the times? Id like to hear him answer.
Something to Think About: Brands can put all the energy they want into having a friendly social media presence. But until there is a well-defined, entertaining personality behind the (puritan) mask, bonafide or outstanding conversations will be hard to find.