Like some of the best athletes around, they came out of nowhere and pretty much swept the non-sponsor Olympics creative awards.
Three hilarious web films for Hostess, created out of agency Bernstein-Rein, show sepia-toned footage of athletes that are pretty darn average, ending with a super-imposed image of a beautiful, golden Twinkie. The campaign, called "Reach for the Gold," has each film ending with a tagline that could be construed as a giant middle finger to the Olympics' brand police: "Not a sponsor."
Seeded online, the films appeared on Hostess' Facebook page and on YouTube. They were created using real YouTube footage (the agency typed in search words like "pole vault gone wrong") that was then given a vintage, sepia wash.
"This was something we thought of on our own," said Brian Brooker, chief creative officer at Bernstein-Rein, which is Hostess' agency of record. "We know that people are focusing right now on the best athletes in the world, and we started thinking about Twinkies as a product that everyone could reach for."
Hostess speaks to the average athlete, said Matt Bowne, associate creative director. "Not someone that's terrible, just people that try to do their best."
The agency presented all three films -- pole vault, gymnast and diver -- to the client as a fun project. The budget was "as close to zero as you can get," said Mr. Bowne--understandably, considering that Hostess' bankruptcy is no secret -- the Twinkie-maker filed for chapter 11 for the second time in a decade in January. The hardest part was tracking down the makers of the YouTube films and getting them to sign permission releases. The filmmakers were paid, although the agency can't disclose how much but "we did what we could to get permission," Mr. Bowne said.
There are other ambush marketing campaigns out there that are using clever wordplay to outrightly snub LOCOG, most notably Nike's "Find Your Greatness" spots that focus on the "other Londons." But the Twinkies work -- initially just a sweet treat for Hostess' Facebook fans -- shows that no media strategy can be a good creative strategy too. "We are pretty pleased that we managed to hit a sweet spot," said Mr. Brooker. As of this minute, no more films are planned.