Recently, ConAgra, North America’s largest packaged food company dun goofed! in the execution of their newest marketing strategy. They hired PR firm Ketchum to host an event, where bloggers in New York would be invited to attend a fancy dinner prepared by celebrity chef and host of TLC’s “Ultimate Cake Off,” George Duran at an underground restaurant.
However, bloggers were livid when they discovered that the “unexpected surprise” promised on their invitation turned out to be somewhat of a hoax when the fancy gourmet meal that diners thought they were eating was actually Marie Callender’s Three Meat and Four Cheese Lasagna, a frozen line from ConAgra foods.
ConAgra hoped this blind tasting would provide them footage for promotional videos on Youtube and its Web site, and for food bloggers to generate a good buzz by saying something along the lines that they were “pleasantly surprised” like similar marketing strategies done by Pizza Hut, Dominos, and Folgers Coffee. Obviously things didn’t go according to plan and unfortunately it has caused ConAgra and Ketchum to receive negative press than positive press.
Many bloggers such as Suzanne Chan, founder of Mom Confessionals, angrily went home and posted that “Our entire meal was a SHAM!”
Unlike the everyday consumer that these companies have used as guinea pigs, bloggers are not ones to be messed with. Food bloggers, especially, have high expectations for the quality of their food and have no fear in letting the public know exactly what’s up.
But as a blogger, I don’t think I think I would get upset over the situation. I would however, feel kind of stupid that I’ve been tricked. I’m sure I would enjoy the meal none the less, and gone home thinking there’s no such thing as a free lunch after all.