Friday, November 13, 2009

Is This PR? - Miracle Whip v. Stephen Colbert

Recently, Stephen Colbert dissed Miracle Whip in a parody commercial on his show, The Colbert Report. Well, Miracle Whip responded, in a unique way. They bought all of the ad slots for the commercial breaks on the Thursday showing of The Colbert Report. In these ad slots, they showed their normal commercials but with modified voice-overs that talked directly to Colbert. Before the show, they also ran an open newspaper ad (that also appeared in several places on the Internet) that was addressed to Colbert and said that they "WILL NOT TONE IT DOWN." In an article from the Chicago Tribune, there is an overview of the "marketing opportunity" taken, complete with a quotation from spokeswoman for Kraft (manufacturer of Miracle Whip). This article also touches on the irony that in addition to producing Miracle Whip, Kraft is also one of the top manufacturers of mayonnaise.

So, PR? Definitely. Good PR? The ballot's still out on that one.

I have read several responses to the retaliation and the sentiments are mixed. There are two sides to the opinions on this PR tactic. On the one hand, this is a light-hearted approach where instead of getting angry at Colbert, Miracle Whip brought it back with humor. On the other hand, it is a campaign that it taking it too seriously. Contradicting, right?

Well I'll start off discussing the good. Even Comedy Central, the channel The Colbert Report appears on, said Miracle Whip's letter was "admittedly funny." It was. The letter, and following commercials, took Colbert's humor and turned it back around in a creative attempt to retaliate the "Colbert effect."

And then there's the bad. The main problem is people believe Miracle Whip is taking itself too seriously as a product. The commercial is trying too hard. You should give 110% right? Which in any other case besides PR would be true. In PR, however, you must strike a balance. This article from Warming Glow seems to think it's too intentional.

In the end though, I think that most of the people who did not like the commercials were people who did not like Miracle Whip in general. The humorous approach to something they could have turned nasty is Good PR.


  1. Interesting points. I haven't read the articles you've pointed out, so thanks for mentioning those. I'm actually surprised people are taking the ads seriously, to the point that people seriously argue what's better, mayo or Miracle whip, or what mayo brand or whatever.

    - ella (

  2. Laura,
    I think this is overall good PR. Miracle Whip was merely responding to a joke with a joke, and I'm sure fans of the Colbert Report enjoyed it! Responding with a lighthearted, funny message was appropriate, and in my opinion much better than letting the joke get your panties in a wad. Great post, overall & good job Miracle Whip!