Spam Looks to Get Social With New Character

'Sir Can-A-Lot' Debuts as Canned Meat Celebrates 75th Year

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Back in 1936, Jay Hormel's idea of market research was a New Year's Eve party where the son of the founder of Hormel Foods asked his guests to submit a name for a new product. An actor from New York took home $100 for the winning entry, "Spam," which began rolling on the production line in Minnesota on July 5, 1937.

The rest is canned-meat history.

This week, Spam and BBDO, Minneapolis -- the only agency the brand has ever had -- is marking 75 years with a new campaign featuring what is billed as Spam's first spokescharacter. His name is Sir Can-A-Lot, a two-and-a-half-inch tall animated knight that the brand says will "crusade to rescue the world from routine meals." That is , if your idea of adventure is Spam and potatoes, or Spam and macaroni and cheese.

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Spam began pushing the pink-colored meat as an ingredient in a wide range of meals in 2009, with its ongoing "Break the Monotony" campaign. Sir Can-A-Lot is coming online partly to help grow the brand's social-media presence. Spam's Facebook page has more than 119,000 "likes," but itsTwitter handle, which launched about a year ago, had a relatively paltry 1,244 followers as of Monday.

"We all felt like we had a bunch of willing participants" on social media, "but they weren't given a lot to do," said Brian Kroening, exec creative director at BBDO, Minneapolis. "Part of our initiative with Sir Can-A-Lot beyond paid media is to use him and his lovable ways as a way to start getting a lot more conversation."

The character will also appear in 30-second TV ads to run in 46 markets, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Seattle, Minneapolis, Charlotte, N.C., and Phoenix. The campaign will run for about six months. Spam will celebrate its diamond anniversary in July with a festival in its hometown of Austin, Minn.

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