Tostino’s Pizza & Emerging Media

Totino’s Pizza Emerging Media History

Totinos.com is the website for Totino’s which is a brand owned by General Mills. In 2007, Totino’s made a deliberate move by sponsoring the ESPN Winter X-Games to target their teen demographic online in addition to using traditional media to target their primary audience, mothers. The following year, the brand sponsored the Winter X-Games again but strategically drove digital initiatives for the first time to reach teen males ages 13 to 17 exclusively.

The “Crash the Winter X-Games,” marketing campaign positioned Totino’s with two young brothers crashing the Winter X-Games in a video documentary type series traveling with the brother’s cross-country to the games. These 18 short webisodes were created specifically to integrate the teenagers into the action and pose a series of online polls to teens.

For example, one poll invites teens to voice their opinion about what the duo should do while at the X-Games. “Choices include ‘use a pick-up line on a famous female snowboarder’ and ‘collect athletes autographs on their bodies.’ Other features of the site include a ‘crash-up’ area to combine snowboarding video clips.”

Each component utilized Totino’s as part of the action while staying genuine to the fan base. Justin Conzemius, marketing manager at Totino’s told Adweek in 2008 that this secondary teen audience pushes the marketing efforts to be authentic with the “Crash” campaign in comparison to traditional media and Moms. “The tone is very different…You can’t be too overt or they’ll [teens will] call you out on it. We’ve tried to be authentic and subtle.”

Totino’s Pizza Emerging Media Today

When you go to the website you are entranced with a static banner for the pizza products that are reminiscent of an 80s Atari game. The background is black with pixelated diamonds and crosses placed throughout.

The center of the banner features the words, “The Comfy Couch of the Internet – Come hang out on our Tumblr, where the pizza is always fine.” These words are surrounded by images of also pixelated grey cats. Some have their tongue sticking out while others don’t but each cat is sitting on top of a slice of pepperoni pizza.

The lower home page is split into 3 columns and continues to engage customers on the brand. The first column invites you to visit their Tumblr page which by the way is cohesive in humor and style of this website. It is geared to boys 13 and older. The center of the page is an advertisement for a WWE sweepstakes and the final column is an advertisement for the buffalo style chicken pizza roll.

The common commercial concept for the product features boys after school sitting and eating pizza rolls in the kitchen. They are joking with friends. This website continues to take this adolescent humor online.

Ethics & Emerging Media for Children

In marketing you are taught to engage where your audience resides. This is the hallmark but how do we ethically tailor emerging media, and children into that foundation? Forbes magazine explains how marketers need to be proactive and transparent when engaging minors through emerging media, “the International Chamber of Commerce prohibits advertising that undermines established social values, or exploits inexperience or credulity, or encourages activities that can be harmful, or suggests that a product conveys physical, psychological, or social advantages.”

Totinos.com has found the correct balance between creating a voice, maintaining a brand, and communicating above board to their demographic. The humor is age appropriate and speaks directly to pre-teen boys. Each social media platform for Totinos.com furthers this engagement between brand and customer but it never directly promotes Totino’s. Instead each platform is built on humor about pizza.

Social Media

Totino’s is very active in engaging their customers online. The website drives traffic to their FaceBook, Twitter, Tumbler & YouTube accounts. Their engagement is ethically appropriate for their age groups. They have a disclaimer on their YouTube post which states that there is no mature content. Also these sites are geared towards laughing at all things about Pizza. Rarely ever do they say go buy my product.

YouTube

On YouTube, there is a video about Totino’s being the “Official Frozen Food Snack” of Wrestle Mania 30. This sponsorship is reminiscent of the Winter X-Games sponsorship. This video in particular is of young men playing the game. The video is split screen with the two gamers on opposite corners of the screen and the Wrestle Mania 30 game is in the center. The two gamers talk about the game, new moves, and Totino’s for the entire game. This video had over 35K views. This page features other YouTube videos with views of over 330K. Each video has a Tostitos theme.

Facebook

The Facebook page is another platform that engages the consumer right where they are. With over 450-thousands fans, Totino’s has been able to garner a loyal fan base. These fans share, like and comment on all things pizza. Take this post for example, it received over 50-thousand likes. The numbers are pretty impressive.

totinos

Totino’s engagement with their Facebook fans is right on point. Their social media team really knows how to have quality dialogue with their fans. This dialogue has led to Totino’s selling more than 240 million frozen pizza’s annually making the brand, “the nation’s top-selling economy frozen brand” (“General Mills,” 2014). The final comment on the, “Pizza Rolls, I Choose You!!!” Facebook post sums up why the brand maintains its healthy brand equity.

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JessicaModkins
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