Do you remember Wacky Packages? I used to love Wacky Packages. I even had this old electric bass that I plastered with Wacky Packages in lieu of a professional paint job.
My nephew was juggling a handful of cards, they dropped to the floor and as I picked them up I saw that they were Wacky Packages. Joy! It had been years since I last saw them and, for all intense and purposes, I thought they had gone the way of Popeye Candy Cigarettes.
My nephew walked me through some of them - from Mean Cuisine, Frosted Snakes and Macaroni For Geese to Sludgsickle, Lice Cakes and Chimp Stick. The parody of mainstream brands may have shifted a little since I last played with them (hey, there are a lot more brands to make fun of), but the concept has not changed.
The power of this all?
I know many famous people get all up-in-arms when they are spoofed on Saturday Night Live. At the same time, I remember a golden rule that one of my old music Editors once told me: "the only bad press is an obituary." That coupled with the fact that the joke doesn't work unless everyone is familiar with what is being made fun of speaks volumes to what Wacky Packages reinforces as far as branding goes. My seven-year-old nephew gets the joke when Wacky Packages parodies York Peppermint Patties. The fact that the sticker says CRAM instead of SPAM sends him into hysterics. He's a smart kid (he is my nephew after all), but from a marketing perspective, it's not just Topps Entertainment who are making out when a kid shells out some shekels for these stickers. The brand that's being parodied is also given the covenant spot of being acknowledged as some kind of super-brand. Wacky Packages making fun of them only further proves their brand awareness.
Here's a new paradigm: is your brand Wacky Packages worthy? What would Wacky Packages do to your brand?