Sara Lee and the Perfect Cake Story

I’m going to completely contradict myself.

I am not at all a violent person and don’t ever really intend on pushing ill will towards anyone, but I do believe in venting as a healthy release of emotions.  Maybe you have noticed that when I get annoyed with particular brands that fail to live up to my expectations, I do what I do best which is research them online, abet sometimes in a stalking kind of way, and demand that they right their current injustices.

Social Media Flaws

Yes, I do tend to be more critical of companies that are trying their hand at various social media outreaches and fail (cough:cough:best:buy:fail:twelp:force:cough), but I also use that research to look at them from both the perspectives of a SMM consultant and specialist and then also, from a user experience, since I am both. Usually, it is an attempt by a brand to approach social media in a way that shows huge fault lines and mistakes, which I like to learn from. Better their mistakes than mine!

Still, though, even while flawed, I do completely believe that any company that isn’t truly looking to incorporate social media outreach into their current customer relations plans in some capacity are going to be hurting in the near future.  Yet, the idealistic part of me demands that social media must be done right or it’s not effective and a company should wait until they really can give up that control. Often, if they are not quite ready or understanding as to what SMM really entails, I want to yell: let us do our jobs at DragonSearch without second guessing us to death!  I know; perfect world scenario; dream on.

Imperfect Social Media Marketing Perfection

Oh, how I cringe when I find that a company I am a consumer of is not active on Twitter so I can talk to them.  Oh, how I shudder when I find that they are not monitoring their brands. Oh, how I balk when I see a lame Facebook Fan page that has organically gathered self identified fans as the perfect target audience and the brand does not engage them, sitting there, waiting and loving the brand.. it’s like waiting to see the Great Wizard who never is found on the other side of the doors at Emerald City. I curse that brand for its wasted opportunity and have the urge to wail “Why, God, oh Why?”And now, I must confess, my idealistic perfect world scenario is not the only way.

Happiest of Consumers: Love Thy Brand

At this very moment I am one of the happiest persons on the face of this earth. Why, you ask? Because before me, waiting to be devoured, is what is left of a Sara Lee Chocolate Swirl Pound Cake. Now I have adored  Sara Lee Chocolate Swirl Pound Cake for as long as I can recall, but I have not had the pleasure of eating it in about 15 years. Hence, it has, over the years, created a level of obsession that has risen and fallen like the tides. Most recently,. I had to ride a great crest of Sara Lee Chocolate Swirl Pound Cake obsession that put things in motion.

While, as a consumer, I actively sought out the Sara Lee brand to discuss with them my obsession, I did not think that much would come of it. They are not to be found on Twitter. They have limited social returns in a universal search. Their Facebook fan page, despite having over 1200 fans, has no posts at all from the brand; only fan activity and no interaction. See, all you can see in this screen shot of the page is my obsessing over their cake and my lack of it.
"Sara Lee Facebook"
Lame. I had no choice but to send them an email which they did respond to if only to tell me that their was no local store for me to find my beloved cake within 100 miles.

I am lucky enough to live in a blogging world where friends out of state were looking for my cake and would have shipped it to me. God Bless the internet and all it’s power.

And then, the most surprising thing happened.

A Social Media Miracle

See, I did what I do which is write about my cake obsession, and then once out of my system, I flash around my blog posts and throw links around like confetti until I feel satisfied. And so, on the only visable SaraLee place that I found, I commented;

“I have no choice but to write about my cake because I cannot eat it…” ,

And I went on my merry, yet unsatisfied, way.

But, despite all outward appearances, someone was reading over at Sara Lee.  Someone was monitoring their Facebook fans and seeing what was said. And while their public outreach was not noticeable to even my highly trained eye, they did something even better. They called me.

Yup, Sara Lee Brand Called Me

Not because of my amazing social media skills, not because they wanted to used my heartfelt story in their next brand campaign, and not because I was really being mean to them and running around yelling about evil pound cake. They called they read my blog post and wanted me to eat my lovely cake and be happy again.

I was in the middle of a meeting when my cell phone rang. How they got my number I do not care ( it’s not that hard!). I left the meeting and took the call. I also get extremely touched and weepy and was bounced out of my skin I was so thrilled. I was promised, not just my Sara Lee Chocolate Swirl Pound Cake, but a case of Sara Lee Chocolate Swirl Pound Cake for my very own self.

So now I am their biggest fan EVER!

I got home from the office today and sitting in my foyer was, indeed, a case of Sara Lee Chocolate Swirl Pound Cake. Which I immediately ripped open, and holding back the tears, and my kids prying sticky fingers, opened with a knife and joyously counted all 12 tins of cake. And, as promised, I sliced it, and warmed it up in the toaster oven, shared the first pieces with my kids ( who never had it before, but know enough to love all things cake), and ate it with tears of pure joy twinkling in my eyes.

But, before I ate it, I tweeted about it."Sara Lee Tweets"And took pictures with my iPhone.

"Chocolate Swirl Poundcake"

And proclaimed, most loudly, that SARA LEE ROCKS!

And they do.

And not just because I have my cake and I can eat it too (and then I can eat another one), but because while looking like a brand that was not actively relating to their customers, they actually are a brand that is willing to go above and beyond to make their customers happy.  And that IS what a good social media campaign is all about.  It’s not about fancy commercials of expensive apps, of even going viral and getting a million fans. It’s about being real and doing what the internet gives us the power to do with a cold technical medium; reach out and connect with people on the level that works for the consumers of your brand.

And that’s why, Sara Lee foods, with a lousy looking shoe string social media attempt, has a fantastic social media outreach program. When you can make your customers cry with joy and think you are great and be willing to tell the world about it; then that’s success no matter how you do it.

And no, I was not asked to write or tweet or any of this in loo of cake. I was given cake in the goodness of spirit and I shall proclaim my love of the Sara Lee brand with the same intent. And THAT is the true power of the internet and social media.

You go chew on that..and I shall go now and eat more cake.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, December 23, 2009 and is filed under Social Media in Marketing.

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