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The 'Twinkie' is Back!
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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Two beloved “institutions” of modern American snack food culture are soon to be resurrected from their short consignment to oblivion following the demise at the end of last year of their original manufacturer. I mean the Twinkie and the Hostess CupCakes brands. And what American has not, at least once in his or her life, had a Twinkie or a Hostess CupCake?
Julie Jargon wrote a wonderful article in the Wall Street Journal on how the brands are being resurrected by the new Hostess Brands LLC. (For the complete article and story, go here.)

What this flack found interesting from a marketing and public relations viewpoint is the plans of the new owner and CEO, C. Dean Metropoulos, with respects to pitching the various brands kept by the new Hostess from the old company. As Ms Jargon noted in her article, “A bankruptcy judge in March granted Hostess permission to sell most of its snack cake brands to Mr. Metropoulos's private-equity firm, Metropoulos & Co., and Apollo Global Management LLC, for $410 million, following liquidation proceedings that began in November. The two firms wouldn't disclose their ownership stakes in the new Hostess, which also cranks out snacks including CupCakes, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, Zingers, Suzy Qs and Sno Balls. McKee Foods Corp., maker of Little Debbie snack cakes, bought the former Hostess's Drake's brand coffee cakes and other desserts, while Flowers Foods Inc. and other buyers split the Hostess bread brands.”

Ms Jargon noted the above was only the start. With respects to marketing and pitching of the new Hostess Brands LLC products, she wrote,

“The debt and hefty pension obligations that the old Hostess faced also prevented it from investing in product innovation or marketing. Consumers seeking healthier products abandoned Twinkies, while those who still wanted indulgent treats grew bored of the same old assortment.

“With lower overhead, Mr. Metropoulos said he can now afford to spend money on research and development. ‘There's no question we want to innovate around flavors and textures,’ Mr. Metropoulos said.

“He's already invested in making some of the existing products richer tasting. For example, the company reformulated the CupCakes with dark chocolate rather than milk. Those and other subtle product changes have led to a 9% increase in ingredient costs that Mr. Metropoulos said will be offset by production efficiencies.

“The new Hostess also plans to pour money into marketing. A multimillion-dollar marketing campaign dubbed ‘The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever’ will tout the Twinkie's return via outdoor banner ads, a Hostess food-truck tour and social media.

“Mr. Metropoulos said he and his sons, Daren, 30, and Evan, 32, who will be involved in promoting the brands, also will likely use ‘guerrilla’ marketing techniques. Celebrity pitchmen are likely.”

A Hostess “guerrilla marketing” and “celebrity pitchmen” joint campaign should be very interesting. Ms Jargon noted at the beginning of her article, “As more than 50 million Twinkies start making their way to stores next week, the first order of business for the 83-year-old brand's new owner is to let customers know a classic is back.”

Stay tuned.

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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