Smart Social Media: Where Is The Captain?

Cap’n Crunch cereal was first brought to market in 1963. The original Cap’n Crunch character might seem vaguely familiar to some and that’s because he was created by Jay Ward, the same animator who gave us icons such as Rocky & Bullwinkle, Dudley Do-Right and George of the Jungle.

The Cap’n is an institution to generations of kids and fondly remembered as a part of childhood for many. It may have been during a nostalgic moment for the aforementioned childhood that drove the guys at “The Giant Steps” boutique marketing agency to go on a hunt for the Cap’n online and on social.

The Giant Steps is a small marketing startup out of Chicago which seems to understand that today, the consumer calls the shots and you don’t own your brand anymore. When they spotted the new retro packaging for the cereal, the two founders decided to let the folks at Quaker Oats know how much they liked it. After searching high and low for Cap’n Crunch, they found him MIA. Sure he had a mini-site, but no social media presence on either Facebook or Twitter. When they tweeted about this, the folks at Quaker Oats politely tweeted back, telling them that no plans existed to bring the Cap’n back to active social service. Wrong answer! (BUZZ)

So, what did “the Giant Steps” do? They did what small marketing agencies with imagination do best, they used the situation to create a campaign with a “Where’s the Cap’n” Facebook page, a great landing page with video explaining the campaign, online petition and even “missing” posters you can print out. Then they started tweeting. It took all of about 1 hour from the time it launched to the time I saw a tweet about it, checked out the site, watched the video, visited the FB page, called them and started writing this post. Not a bad example of cross-channel interaction is it?

Quaker Oats is being schooled by two guys running a start up in Chicago on what social marketing means today. A company with a brain trust of marketing mavens has had it’s shorts pulled down by two guys probably not long out of college and that’s gotta say something for the power of the web and social media.

I spoke to Michael who is one of the partners at the agency behind the campaign and he sounds like a guy who really gets social media and multi-channel marketing. I really got the impression that Michael and his partner are truly big fans of Cap’n Crunch. Sure, they’ll get some exposure, but these guys are in it for the old sea dog! Yes, corporate world, people really will do it for love — even for love of an animated logo.

Why not have someone role playing such a great hero of the milky seas and interacting with fans? Sure, he’s a brand, but brands like the Cap’n straddle that line between a brand and a personality we can actually relate to. People don’t talk to brands normally, but brands such as this are more than just that aren’t they?

Ahoy Quaker Oats! Opportunity right ahead!

When initially contacted, did the person tweeting for Quaker Oats take their comments back to the marketing department and start a conversation on this? They certainly should have – after all, a conversation is a two way stream of ideas. When you are on social you’ve got to be as good at listening and using what you hear to generate ideas internally as you are with simply spouting company lines.

Hopefully the good people at Quaker Oats will see this as the golden opportunity it is and respond by jumping on the bandwagon! If they’re smart they’ll respond positively as did Coke regarding a popular grass-roots Facebook Page . Should they take it further and put a little effort and resources behind these two guys, this could really payoff for them.

Join the cause here and stand up for the guy who stood up for us every morning…even in milk: