Hostess Nails Viral Marketing

It was a joke all along, and most of the Internet fell for it. Recently, Hostess released a meme on social media celebrating the beginning of baseball season. In the meme, a Hostess cupcake was decorated to look like a baseball. The inscription read: “touchdown.” As expected, social media went nuts. Countless denizens of the web could not resist pointing out that “touchdown” is a football term, not a baseball term. Others argued that it was so obvious the caption had to be a joke. As the argument continued, the ad was shared again and again and again.

The meme became such a sensation that even major media outlets contacted Hostess to “get to the creamy center” of the cupcake controversy. Hostess played dumb, only admitting that the baseball themed cakes were indeed “real” and would be available for purchase soon. And they got to deliver that line, along with a tasty picture of the cakes, umpteen times.

Think about that, now. Millions – tens of millions, really – and absolutely free advertising because enough people just could not let it go while online.

As the “story” grew, Hostess even coyly engaged with users on Twitter. Of course, some were in on the joke, but nobody was telling, certainly not Hostess. They even doubled down, telling Twitter users they were “so excited about the beginning of sportsball.”

Sportsball, of course, is a pop culture reference to the simultaneous importance and unimportance of sports in our daily lives. With that post, even more people were let in on the joke…but that didn’t stop the debate. The argument just heated up.

Then, a few days after the whole thing began to fade, Hostess came out and admitted the truth: they knew all along and did it all on purpose. This, in turn, led to an entirely renewed debate online and on social media. Bravo, Hostess. Well played.

Ronn Torossian is a PR Executive and a life long New Yorker. Ronn is the author of best selling PR Book ‘For Immediate Release” – and is the founder and CEO of 5WPR.