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Hamburger Helper’s April Fool’s content marketing

The whole April Fool’s Day prank is getting a bit tired for me, but I am not even sure if THIS was a prank. My daughter Madeline alerted me Friday about a rap album dropped by–Hamburger Helper. She tells me that it is very high quality (you might not be surprised at how unqualified I am to judge it) and that it is getting good reviews across the net, including AdWeek calling the album shockingly good.

What do we make of this?

Clearly a lot of work went into this, and while it might have been a good idea to release this on April Fool’s Day, it seems to be more than a mere prank. Maybe it isn’t a prank at all. Perhaps we should judge it on its merits.

I’ll admit to not having kept up with Hamburger Helper as a brand. My old brain has it clearly pigeon-holed into “1980’s Mom too busy to cook a real dinner, but wants something that no one complains about.” But a little thinking would lead to the conclusion that it is a market that has moved on to other convenient foods, which might have a bit more of a health food sheen than white pasta, corn starch, partially hydrogenated oils, and MSG. 2016 moms are a lot less likely to want to serve their family Hamburger Helper, I suspect.

So, who is buying it? This approach to content marketing would suggest it is millennials who want  a break from ramen. They want something cheap, fast, easy to cook, and they don’t care what is in it as long as it tastes good. This feels more like guys in their dorm room than moms.

Did it work?

I have no way to know, but if the music is good, it at least made a splash. It might have moved the brand into a space where these dorm chefs might give it a try as long as the brand stays low key and doesn’t look like it is trying too hard, which millennials seem to hate.

Now, I am no expert in millennials–most of what I know about them is that they are younger than me. If Hamburger Helper looks authentic and not too sales-y, this looks like a brilliant re-positioning that can amplify a market that has already discovered them. They’ve aimed content at their target market that gives their current customers something to talk about and new customers a reason to hear about them. Very nicely done, in my opinion.

I’ll be interested to see what they try next.

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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