Allan’s Dessert Bites: Controversial Candy & a Unique PR Experience

I love me a good mystery, so when a busy PR company asked me to sample Allan Candy’s Dessert Bites and provided me with a media kit full of information on a defamatory social media campaign against the brand they were representing, I was interested to say the least. In the wake of scandals like Urban Outfitter’s being accused of stealing designs and experience working in intellectual property, I was immediately concerned for poor old Grandma Helen Woganowski and the possibility that a large candy manufacturer had stolen her recipe.

(click on photo to enlarge)

It turns out, Allan Candy had launched a brave promotional campaign that utilized advertising, public relations, and social media tools. Instead of relying on traditional media buying and posting the “defaced ads”, the company also called upon a public relations agency to spread the word that Allan Candy’s Dessert Bites were not only delicious, but an original recipe. In reality, the issue between Helen Woganowski and Allan Candy was entirely staged in a brave attempt to garner positive attention for the brand. Since I’m blogging about it, I obviously think it was effective.

As part of the ploy, grumpy gran Helen used her own wordpress site to tell her side of the story and encourage her supporters to distribute posters and posted videos on her YouTube channel (with her tech-savvy grandson’s help of course) including this one of her defacing Allan billboards posted below.

Of course, Allan Candy responded with equally convincing videos appealing to Helen to stop accusing them of stealing her recipe and defacing their advertisements on their Youtube channel and Facebook page.

About a week after I received the samples I received an update in my Inbox about the battle between Helen and Allan Candy. Allan Candy had supposedly admitted they stole the recipe for Dessert Bites from “disgruntled grandma Helen Woganowski” and offered her a job in their product development department. Woganowki was thrilled to be recognized as the creator of the treats.

Kudos to Allan Candy and Rock-it promotions for using social media in a really unique way and using traditional media to support it instead of the other way around. I was so impressed by the way this campaign went off, right down to the timing of the “Media Update” to inform us that Allan Candy had allegedly admitted their error and made amends with Helen Woganowski. Not only was it a brilliant way to garner attention for Dessert Bites, it also leads candy cravers to believe the product is a “homemade” recipe and something you can make in your own kitchen.

I want to assure you, I don’t blog about everything that comes across my mailbox – real or virtual.
But give me a twist on a traditional PR pitch and I am sold. Thank you Rock-it promotions for the delicious treats and fun campaign 🙂

Are you impressed by this innovative take on a traditional and social media-driven campaign or is this just another PR pitch?

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  1. Keith Maskell
    August 1, 2012 / 12:21 pm

    Is it just me or does this marketing campaign seem awfully inspired by “Mad Men”? Remember the bit where Pete Campbell and Peggy staged a mock fight between two housewives for the last Sugarberry (or whatever the name was) ham in a Brooklyn grocery store?

    • JamieLeighTO
      August 2, 2012 / 9:47 am

      That is funny! …Although a bit of a stretch in terms of a comparison, if only because there were no billboards or social media campaigns about the ham.
      Staging a controversy is by no means a new idea, I just really liked the way they blended traditionally advertising with an effective social media and publicity strategy.