Eclipsing the competition through consumer engagement

Integrated marketing is a constant battle for finding ways to connect with audiences and learn how to connect and drive engagement and eventually sales.

Connecting with family or emotions is often the touchstone brands use to build an association with a brand, but that’s not the only way to connect with an audience. Sometimes cultural events are a prime opportunity for a brand to help bring enhanced meaning to people and create a connection to a meaningful and memorable event that will build the brand’s relevance.

The 2017 solar eclipse was a special moment that connected people across the United States as the Moon blocked the Sun’s rays from Oregon to South Carolina on August 21, 2017. Thousands, and perhaps millions of people traveled to see the eclipse and be a part of this shared event.

Many brands used this opportunity to be a part of the event and help build brand awareness and boost sales. Chattanooga, Tennessee, based MoonPie cookie company was able to boost sales and consumer engagement in the days leading up to the eclipse because of its lunar connection, and the company took advantage of the notice by creating eclipse survival kits (featuring two MoonPies and two pairs of eclipse glasses) and hosting special events associated with the eclipse.

MoonPie even wound up getting into a bit of a social media battle with a competing brand looking to claim the title as the official snack cake of the eclipse.

The snack-cake showdown generated buzz for both brands online throughout Eclipse Day. Perhaps MoonPie’s social media managers put it best the morning after the eclipse when they posted:

Snack cakes weren’t the only brands looking to get into the eclipse excitement. Denny’s restaurants — a company familiar to USC graduate students studying integrated marketing — also got into the eclipse action with a special on pancakes (aka mooncakes) on the day of the eclipse at select locations.

These two examples are some of many attempts by consumer brands trying to take advantage of the 2017 eclipse to build brand awareness and cultural connection with consumers. Some of these concepts were better than others, and certainly care should be taken by brands considering these gimmicks.

However, when successful, using meaningful cultural moments can help brands build awareness and goodwill with audiences looking for enjoy and share these historic events.

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7 Responses to Eclipsing the competition through consumer engagement

  1. Atif says:

    This was a great post Jim and I was actually thinking about writing a post about the Eclipse after all the excitement leading up to it. It’s amazing what brands did to become part of the national conversation for the Eclipse. Here at DFW Airport we hosted a watch part from an area where customers can watch planes land. We invited out the public via social media and handed out glasses that we had purchased. The positive feedback we received on social was great, our watch party was advertised on all the local news networks and covered extensively by AVGEEKS (this is what aviation enthusiasts refer to themselves as in the aviation industry.) Your post was timely!

  2. Eren Cello says:

    Interesting! I hadn’t even noticed the ads in many places – do you think they did a good job reaching audiences as intended? I also saw/heard the solar glasses were being sold for upwards of $20! Crazy how some brands capitalize on these events and gouge consumers.

    • Jim Tanner says:


      I think that anytime an organization can be involved in a fun way can benefit awareness and engagement for the brand. Pushing too hard for a sale certainly can turn people off, but if it’s done in a fun way I think it can help.

      There were a few runs on the solar glasses here in my area, but they were also aware for cheap of free at many places like the public library, schools, etc.

      It was a fun day and an amazing thing to experience!

      Thanks for the comment!
      Jim T.

  3. Mark McLaughlin says:

    Jim, great post, great timing and great example, I think, of what this blog was designed to be and do. Your examples used were relevant to the event and the social showdown added not just a bit of humor, but a glimpse into the integrated marketing environment on social networks. Nice work!

    • Jim Tanner says:

      Thanks, Mark!

      This was a fun post to write! I really enjoyed the blog in this class. Many weeks I was too swamped with school work, but I would have enjoyed coming up with more posts!

      Take care!
      Jim T.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Hi Jim,

    So glad someone had fun with the solar eclipse theme! I agree and this was a smart event and occasion that brands should have jumped on to be a part of the memory and experience. I thought it was fun to see a small company like MoonPie capture sales and capitalize on this opportunity. While MoonPie may be relatively noticeable and familiar with Tennessee residents, I had never heard of the brand until I traveled to the region for work. This helped the company bring brand recognition to new consumers and other parts of the country. My company even made a limited time only cocktail, named the Eclipse (so original), to get in on the fun and capture extra sales. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jim Tanner says:


      I always forget that not everyone has ready access to MoonPies in other parts of the country and world. Living just a few miles from their plant, they have just been a part of my life forever!

      While some of MoonPie’s promotions were focused here on their home market, the social media work certainly did broaden brand awareness in those poor impoverished areas without easy access to the joy of MoonPies! Haha!

      Thanks for the comment!
      Jim T.

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