Pop-Secret Popcorn Gets a Seat at the Super Bowl


How Diamond Foods Plans to Relaunch Brand Using the Big Game

By Emily Bryson York

CHICAGO (AdAge.com) — The Super Bowl isn’t just for big spenders such as Anheuser-Busch and Frito-Lay. Every now and then, the big game turns out to be a great stage to revive forgotten brands, like Denny’s did with its free breakfast promotion last year. This year, Diamond Foods is looking to catch lightning in a bottle with a relaunch of Pop-Secret microwave popcorn.

“We felt like the Super Bowl was a nice way to enhance that Pop-Secret awareness and experience,” said Diamond VP-Marketing Andrew Burke. “It’s a way to generate quick, mass awareness, and [a sense of] ‘Boy this feels different than what I remember.'”

Indeed, Diamond has updated the brand with the help of its ad agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners. The TV campaign, which kicked off this week, will get a big splash at the Super Bowl, but then continue to run beyond the big game. The work portrays Pop-Secret as a family of movie-loving kernels. As they banter and battle over their Batman impersonations (think “Dark Knight,” not the campy ’60s series), they’re liable to get, er, worked up.

Diamond agreed to buy Pop-Secret from General Mills for $190 million last August, completing the purchase in February. Pop-Secret advertising hasn’t been on TV for more than two years.

But Diamond is no stranger to the big game, having bought time twice before. The company launched its Emerald Snack nuts in 2005 and kicked off its “3 PM Natural Energy” campaign, also from Goodby, in 2007. In it, office workers caught in a midday nap risked Robert Goulet showing up and tying them up with packing tape. Just one handful of Emerald Nuts was the way “to keep Robert Goulet away.”

Mr. Burke said that while each Super Bowl appearance has resulted in a sales increase, he’s also using a variety of tactics to maximize his return on investment on this buy. Pop-Secret will build up to its 30-second, fourth-quarter spot by using the movie-loving kernel family from now to the big game. Mr. Burke said that Diamond’s research revealed that consumers watch movies in one of two ways: either as white noise to accompany night-time web surfing, or as a focused, family event with popcorn. Mr. Burke wants Pop-Secret to be that popcorn, and so he plans to partner with a variety of movies and TV networks, including FX, TBS and TNT going forward. He’s also got an eye on the Academy Awards.

Diamond’s commitment to the Super Bowl — and advertising support in general — has been a boon to Pop-Secret and Emerald shelf space at retail. When marketers can demonstrate strong support behind their brands, Mr. Burke said, “retailers are much more open about getting distribution on shelf.”

After all, he said, Super Bowl ads are a win-win for marketer and retailer. “We ask them to support this spending by giving us those displays and that distribution,” Mr. Burke said. “It’s a signal not only for consumer but for the retail partners to say, ‘Hey we’ve acquired this brand, we’re going to support this brand and bring new people to your category, so help us do that by giving us this shelf display.’ And they’ve been very responsive to that.”