Wonderful Pistachios is clearly targeting gamers with its latest “Get Crackin’” campaign. The company has invested $55 million in marketing, which kicked off last October and included a Super Bowl LI spot that introduced Ernie the Elephant, voiced by WWE superstar, John Cena. Cena’s latest project with Wonderful Pistachios brings Ernie into the video game realm with the free-to-play Destroy Ernie’s Evidence experience on Getcrackin.com.
A new game unlocks clues every two weeks, bringing to life locations from Ernie’s eight TV commercials. Gamers can enter to win prizes such as $10,000 in cash, four Coachella VIP Passes for 2018, an African safari for two, $5,000 in Stubhub credit, $5,000 in Airbnb credit and 10 Nintendo Switch consoles with launch titles. The first game challenges players to unscramble texts on Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s phone, and new games will be released and playable through June 30, 2017.
Since introducing the character, Ernie’s influence has already led to Pistachios’ sales volume increasing by more than 35 percent, according to Adam Cooper, vice president of marketing at Wonderful Pistachios. Wonderful Pistachios & Almonds is part of The Wonderful Company, a privately held $4 billion company, which also has top brands that include Wonderful Halos, Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful, Justin Wine and Teleflora.
Cooper explains why the company is targeting gamers with this massive new campaign in this exclusive interview with [a]listdaily.
Can you talk about this video game activation?
To support our biggest integrated Get Crackin’ campaign, Ernie the Elephant is unveiling a series of interactive games that challenge pistachio fans to crack open the mystery from a night of mischief with the Squirrel Sisters. Destroy Ernie’s Evidence offers pistachio lovers the chance to cover up incriminating footage captured on-camera from the night before. Ernie will be featured in the game in a variety of different situations, touting the health benefits of pistachios while gamers search for hidden clues. Snacking while gaming is often full of notoriously unhealthy options but pistachios go with any occasion including gaming, whether solo or in a group, plus they’re so good for you! Throughout the game, Ernie will remind pistachio fans to Get Crackin’ for every snack occasion, whether it be on-the-go or while playing a wildly interactive gaming experience.
Why did you decide to target gamers?
We know that gamers are snacking mindlessly while playing video games and we want to be a healthy yet tasty snack option. Americans are snacking more than ever before, and it’s never been a better time to call out mindless munching of nutrient-poor, energy dense foods and start snacking smart. Pistachios are a great snacking alternative to greasy snacks like chips. In fact, Wonderful Pistachios are in-shell and may slow down consumption time while snacking. The empty shells may serve as a visual cue reminding snackers to eat mindfully during a marathon gaming session. Pistachios are a good source of protein and fiber in every 49-nut serving, so gamers can Get Crackin’ without the guilt.
What did you learn from the Angry Birds campaign about the gaming audience?
The Angry Birds campaign was an effective integrated campaign for Wonderful Pistachios, and it achieved clear success in terms of awareness, homepage traffic, Facebook fan acquisitions and most importantly, sales. Through this activation, we learned that the program successfully converted online players to fans and customers directly translating to increase in sales.
What were your goals with releasing the video game levels in a staggered fashion?
After introducing Ernie the Elephant to the public, we wanted pistachio fans to get to know him as a fun-loving character. The video game was created to engage fans and make Ernie’s story more exciting. We decided to unlock chapters of the game at different times to pulse Ernie throughout the spring and summer while offering fans the opportunity to connect with Ernie. Smaller narratives allowed for a larger story to be told while highlighting the unique prizes for consumers throughout the journey.
What does working with John Cena, who is also a big gamer and recently helped Nintendo promote Switch, bring to this campaign?
John Cena is known for many things, and now as the voice of a pistachio-loving, health-conscious, computer-generated spokes-elephant. We knew John would be the perfect partner to help drive awareness to Destroy Ernie’s Evidence and spread the word about healthy eating and how snacking on Wonderful Pistachios can fit into one’s everyday lifestyle including gamers who need energy to fuel an all-day gaming marathon.
Richard Sherman is another big gamer. How does tying into his personality and fan base cross over with your audience?
One of the most common times to snack is while watching live sports games, and people often indulge in unhealthy options. Football continues to be a huge focus for the brand and Super Bowl LI was our third time being part of the big game. Wonderful Pistachios’ partnership with Richard Sherman demonstrates our commitment to healthy eating through a series of online digital videos educating an estimated 21 million football fans about the nutritional benefits of pistachios.
As one of the smartest players in the NFL, Seattle Seahawks cornerback, Richard Sherman is able to educate fans on the benefits of pistachios compared to unhealthy, salty snacks like nachos or crackers. Just like video gamers, Richard looks for smart snacking options that will fuel him on game day and keep him focused to endure any battle that may come his way.
What demographic are you targeting with this video game activation and how does this fit within your normal target audience?
Our brand is uniquely positioned to take advantage of reaching a broad demographic of consumers who are already eating salty snacks such as potato chips. We look at the snacking habits of our target demo, and our goal is to reach “snackthusiasts,” who are intentional in their choices, their rituals and lifestyle, whether they are snacking at home or on-the-go.
With $100,000 in prizes, fans have the chance to win prizes such as a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon, Coachella Tickets or an African Safari. With such a wide variety of prizing opportunities, Destroy Ernie’s Evidence is relatable to every kind of demographic.
What are some of the positive effects pistachios have on gamers playing for long hours or late at night?
As one of the lowest calorie and highest protein nuts, Wonderful Pistachios offers gamers a healthy and delicious alternative to typical unhealthy salty snacks. With pistachios, consumers can have it all. They are able to satisfy cravings for something savory and crunchy without compromising their healthy eating goals. So, whether you’re helping Ernie solve his mystery or pulling an all-nighter with your fellow gamers, pistachios are the smart choice to keep you going.
What advantages does introducing Ernie to a Super Bowl LI audience open up for extending this campaign, which is continuing through these free-to-play games?
The Super Bowl is the second highest consumption occasion for Wonderful Pistachios, and our integrated marketing campaigns target this high consumptions time across all of our marketing platforms. The Big Game was a perfect platform for Ernie to remind consumers to snack smart and enjoy pistachios as an alternative to typical sports snacks. Whether you’re playing in the big game or destroying Ernie’s evidence, pistachios are the healthy snacking option.