July 10, 2024

My Bologna Has a … Beauty Secret? Oscar Mayer’s Beauty Ads (with a Bacon Twist)

You might wonder what the connection between meat and personal care is. Well, that’s what happens when the bacon smoking process is six to eight hours longer than other brands in the category, or so the marketer claims.

Nourhan Sandouk

Credits: Oscar Mayer

Simplicity, fun and light unexpected, moments that spark smiles were the main ingredients that helped Oscar Mayer find its unique place in American culture.

Ask anybody about Oscar Mayer, and one of the first things you’ll hear is, "My bologna has a first name, it's 'O-S-C-A-R'...," one of the longest-running TV commercials in the country.

These beloved relics of Oscar Mayer’s past were accompanied by its latest “Keep It Oscar” campaign, which Johannes Leonardo, the branding agency, created after examining the brand's advertising history.

As Rachel Frederick, the creative director at Johannes Leonardo, explains, the campaign's main goal is to bring back the light-hearted approach that helped Oscar Mayer obtain a special place in the market and among consumers. For Oscar Mayer, finding fun in life and bringing smiles to consumers has always been its main campaign objective.

“Our quick hit, delightfully odd 'meat content' unites the OM portfolio, breaking away from traditional commercial advertising with almost no narratives or explanations and leaving the viewer with all of the humorous parts they crave,” Frederick said. “From slices of bacon doing the worm to a choir singing Yum on repeat, we hope that the work inspires unexpected smiles — a nod to what made the Oscar Mayer brand so magical in the first place."

So how did Oscar Mayer break away this time from traditional commercial advertising

The surprising answer? Personal care and beauty.

You might wonder what the connection between meat and personal care is. Well, that’s what happens when the bacon smoking process is six to eight hours longer than other brands in the category, or so the marketer claims.

“All bacon ads are about bacon, but when your bacon is smoked longer than most, sometimes your bacon ad will run into a beauty ad, or a shaving ad, ”Zack Roif, creative director at Johannes Leonardo, said in a statement. “When the regular 15-second media buy just isn’t enough time to demonstrate how long we smoke your bacon, we took aim at disrupting all the other ads to prove our point. We’re smoked longer.”

Introducing … Fake Beauty Ads

Created by Johannes Leonardo, the ad for the 12-hour smoking process for Oscar Mayer thick-cut bacon is shown in 30- and 15-second versions, starting with the familiar sights and sounds of sizzling bacon, a title card shows on the screen, “classic bacon ad.” As the ad concludes, however, either a lip gloss spot or one for a men's razor begins. Each spokesperson is distracted by the aroma of bacon smoking indoors. "Yep, we're still smokin' that bacon," says the voiceover, informing viewers that they're still watching Oscar Mayer messaging.

Interrupting ads for fake products recalls previous marketing efforts that have caught consumers' attention. In a Super Bowl spot, Fox streamer Tubi made it seem like someone accidentally changed the channel during the big game. Similarly, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter parodied luxury perfume ads by adding a fake scent called “Pas de Beurre.”

Shelby Max, brand communications manager for Oscar Mayer said, “At Oscar Mayer, our goal is to ‘Keep It Oscar’ in everything we do by bringing a sense of fun and levity to the everyday. We opted to meat [sic] them in unexpected ways to challenge the traditional paid media mix.”

This wasn’t the company’s first attempt to approach a different kind of advertisement. The “Keep It Oscar” campaign has previously thrown a similar dose of fun. In 2022, “bologna-inspired” face masks that poke at the self-care space were introduced. Last year, they partnered with Mint Mobile and local businesses to dole out “A Side of Bacon” for consumers who purchase any three-month Mint Mobile plan.

Image Credits: Amazon

Image Credits: Oscar Mayer

The Oscar Mayer campaign has said it will incorporate online video, social media, display and streaming audio tactics across iHeartRadio, Twitch and sports mediums. It also has social media posts that measure the bacon’s cooking time in screen time averages or the length of multiple basketball or football games.

Looking at Oscar Mayer's most iconic work, like the Wienermobile and ‘My Bologna Has A First Name,’ we can see that most of the ads were created first and foremost to make people smile, as it’s the brand’s main strategy to communicate with their audience. That’s why “Keep it Oscar” advertising didn’t look, sound or act like the usual “meat” advertising most of the time. This approach puts fun, unexpected moments, making people smile, and not taking the brand too seriously at the forefront of its marketing strategy.

Oscar Mayer knows that it’s vital to understand the preferences and culture of today’s consumers. Its approach has always sought ways to connect with the audience rather than simply showing the product, reflected in the media strategy for "Keep it Oscar." Through content advertising, the brand has been keen to deploy mobile-minded formats like short-form TV and online video ads, and the strategy itself is more centered on communicating a vibe than telling a traditional story. 

The brand could’ve simply told customers about its bacon's 12-hour smoking process, but instead, adding the twist of beauty products and interrupting ads for fake products showed the world more of its brand personality.

Ultimately, its sense of humor and fun-first approach helped Oscar Mayor put its content stand out from its competitors in the best ways possible.

Nourhan Sandouk

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