For most students of creativity, the dream is to sell America’s favorite products. We strive to write taglines like “Have a Coke and a Smile” or “America Runs On Dunkin.” But the truth is, while those are the hardest jobs to get, they involve the least consumer conversion. Who doesn’t love Coca-Cola and Donuts? The hardest thing for an advertiser to do is to convince the buyer to change their attitude about a product.
Spiced Ham… Special American Processed Meat… How did SPAM become an American staple? I wanted to find out.
I looked back on the history of the SPAM brand. SPAM represented American cuisine during WWII and was sent overseas for GI’s. A few years later SPAM rebranded as a “SPAM-dandy” breakfast to be eaten with eggs. In the 1990’s it became widely popular in Hawaii, and was a way to put Polynesian foods on the table in a budget-conscious way. SPAM has consistently been the food for the real Americans. It’s not 9-5ers it’s the real majority of 8-6 and 7-7ers. It’s special, American meat for the unspecial American.
The brand sparked my interest over the last few weeks over a social media campaign. I was impressed by Instagram ads of recipes that looked so delicious that I was shocked to find out they included Spam. Eventually I started to see recipes for SPAM poke bowls and SPAM pizza trickling into the feeds of food bloggers, both sponsored and unsponsored. This was one of the clearest ways I’ve ever seen digital marketing working.
Watching this digital marketing work in a real way was so compelling that I wanted to try it myself. Not only because I like to reward good marketing whenever I see it, but also because I needed to see this thing in action.
Following Spam’s recipe, I made my own version of SPAM Musubi. It tasted “SPAM-tastic,” like the Instagram ads told me it would, and made you feel like you were eating something more special than canned meat. (Less Special American Processed Meat, more “Sizzle, Pork, and Mmm.”) The campaign changed my mind about SPAM brand. SPAM is the pulse of a happy family that values cultivating joy at the dinner table.
The way I see it, SPAM Brand understands America’s most beautifully unpretentious citizens, and finds ways to elevate people while staying true to itself. It is celebrated in a way that no other American classic ever could.