It was bound to happen. Someone — in this case Madison-based Oscar Mayer — crossed a pork belly with a smartphone. The result is whole new way to wake up.
The Oscar Mayer Institute for the Advancement of Bacon on Thursday rolled out an iPhone app-based device that allows people to awaken to the smell and sound of sizzling bacon, without lifting a frying pan or touching a microwave.
The same company that introduced the world to the Weinermobile and immortalized bologna in a television jingle that is still embedded in the brains of 40- and 50-somethings everywhere, is now using bacon and smartphones to connect with a new generation.
“From a marketing standpoint it’s a really interesting way for Oscar Mayer to get themselves to the forefront (of the market) in particular with younger people,” Don Stanley, faculty associate in the college of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also is chief executive and founder of digital marketing firm 3Rhino Media.
“You are combining a technology with an age group that would probably be most interested in it, along with the coolness factor of ‘how did they do that? How does it work?’”
The fact that it’s bacon makes it even cooler.
In the digital world, “For some reason, bacon is one of those topics — like cats on treadmills — that everybody gets super excited about,” Stanley said.
Beginning Thursday, Oscar Mayer began offering the chance to apply for a free Wake Up & Smell the Bacon device through April 4.
To use it, Oscar Mayer says, download the Wake Up & Smell the Bacon app, plug the detachable device into the headphone jack of an iPhone and “savor the scent of sizzling bacon.”
The detachable bacon scent-producing device will not be sold in stores and quantities are limited, the company said.
Oscar Mayer has 1,000 employees in Wisconsin and 23,000 in the U.S. and Canada, a company spokeswoman said.
In 1924, Oscar Mayer introduced the first packaged, sliced bacon to the market. The product received a U.S. patent.
Fast forward to 2014. The company couldn’t have picked a better food to launch a new marketing campaign.
“Forty-five percent of all Americans are going to consume some kind of bacon in the next two weeks,” said Harry Balzer, chief food industry analyst for the NPD Group consumer research firm in Chicago. “Close to half the population is going to actually be consuming bacon somehow, some way in the next two weeks.
“And, when I say population, I mean everybody — mom, dad, kids, grandma, grandpa — everybody.”
Bacon is sizzling.
“If you do anything with it, you are going to have a lot of people who will either get a chuckle or find it interesting,” and create some serious buzz, Balzer said.
And it will be featured in emails, tweets, Facebook posts, LinkedIn referrals, Instagram messages, Google+ notifications and Pinterest pins. The membership on those sites is well over a billion people.
The Oscar Mayer YouTube video that is part of the marketing campaign was introduced for the first time Thursday morning. It had generated more than 51,000 views by evening.
Choosing the smartphone as the medium is vital to the process, Stanley said.
“Ninety-two percent of Americans who have a smartphone, have their smartphone within arms’ reach 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” Stanley said. “It’s become our alarm clock, our calendar and our way of staying connected.
“It taps into something that a lot of people have, a lot of people use and a lot of people see as a major extension of their day-to-day life.”
Farm interests say they support anything that promotes pork consumption.
“Bacon is really important to producers’ bottom lines,” said Cindy Cunningham, assistant vice president of the National Pork Board in Des Moines.
A generation ago, you could hardly give away pork bellies, from which bacon is made.
“Bellies a decade or two decades ago were kind of a drag on the market and were really a challenge to market,” Cunningham said. “Today, bellies are a real driver of the market,” because of the popularity of bacon with American consumers.
Two slices of bacon
■6 grams of fat
■4 grams of protein
■60 milligrams of potassium
Random bacon facts
■The Chinese began salting pork bellies as early as 1,500 B.C.
■62% of restaurants have bacon on the menu
Bacon in the home
■53% of all households report they always have bacon on hand in the kitchen
■15% of all bacon is reported to be cooked in a microwave; 45% is reported to be cooked on the stove top
Other stuff made with bacon
Beer, ice cream, bras, jewelry, lip balm
Other stuff made with bacon