Oscar Mayer’s ‘bologna-inspired’ face masks poke fun at self-care

Linda J. Dodson

Dive Brief:

  • Oscar Mayer introduced “bologna-inspired” face masks that poke fun at the self-care space, according to a press release.
  • Available for sale in limited quantities on Amazon starting today (Jan. 19), the gag product was developed with Korean beauty and skincare brand Seoul Mamas and retails for $5 a piece. While resembling Oscar Mayer’s signature cold cut, the face mask contains no actual meat, but does have ingredients intended to promote skin hydration and elasticity, along with anti-inflammatory benefits.
  • With the stunt, Oscar Mayer is playing into the “New Year, New You” mantra centered around self-improvement as the calendar resets. The Kraft Heinz marketer is also extending what it deems a pop-art approach to marketing that breaks with conventional media.

Dive Insight:

Oscar Mayer is offering a light-hearted spin on the self-care industry, looking to engage consumers who are pursuing a reinvention in 2022. The announcement nods to the fact that breaking with old habits can be a challenge, creating a window to introduce some levity. Studies indicate about 80% of people drop their New Year’s resolutions by early February.

The face masks at the same time are meant to evoke childhood memories of playing around with lunch meats, though some may draw more grotesque comparisons to movies like “Silence of the Lambs.” Still, the nostalgia angle indicates Oscar Mayer is targeting millennial parents versus their young children.

While Oscar Mayer is ribbing the self-serious side of self-care, the gag product promises functional benefits. The face masks contain witch hazel botanicals and seaweed-derived ingredients that are meant to help with hydration, as well as collagens to lock in moisture and elasticity. Additionally, the packaged food brand is spurring customers to take “a prolific amount of selfies” wearing the deli meat-themed masks, a bid to drum up chatter on social media.

“Oscar Mayer has a legacy bringing levity to things that have gotten too serious, and beauty is a ripe territory to playfully subvert,” said Lindsey Ressler, senior marketing analyst at Oscar Mayer, in a statement. “This is the latest in our brand movement to create work that feels more like pop-art and less like traditional commercial advertising — inspired by the old, modernized for today.”

The stunt falls under a “Keep it Oscar” platform the brand introduced last year with creative agency of record Johannes Leonardo to freshen up its image. A core theme of the overhaul is eschewing traditional narrative storytelling in favor of a more abstract approach that still tries to connect with culture through emergent media formats like GIFs and short-form video.

Oscar Mayer switching up its strategy and packaging design followed years of struggles to connect with shoppers who have gravitated toward healthier, more organic offerings on the grocery aisle. Parent Kraft Heinz wrote down the value of its Kraft and Oscar Mayer brands by $15.4 billion in 2019 and has been pushing to revitalize both through more innovative branding initiatives since.

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