By now you probably have seen the "Messin' with Sasquatch" Commercials for Jack Links Beef Jerky. The StarTribune newspaper based in Mineapolis-ST.Paul, Minnesota, reports on the Ad campaign developed by the Minneapolis advertising agency Carmichael Lynch.
By DAVID PHELPS, Star Tribune
Last update: February 8, 2008 - 9:43 PM
Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune
OK, it's guy humor. Like when you put shaving cream in the hand of someone who's asleep and then you tickle their nose until they involuntarily move their hand to their face and give themselves a messy shaving cream bath. That kind of humor.
And it sells beef jerky?
It does when the butt of the joke is the legendary and previously elusive Sasquatch -- also known as Bigfoot -- and the perpetrators are 20-something males, and sometimes females, walking through the woods eating Jack Link's Beef Jerky.
An entire advertising campaign for the Wisconsin snack manufacturer has been built around the theme "Messin' with Sasquatch," helping Jack Link's Beef Jerky become the bestselling jerky brand in the United States. The ads have become a hit on the Internet with an almost cult-like following of people who post messages to Sasquatch and make homemade Sasquatch videos.
"We call our demographic 'adventurous spirits,'" said Troy Link, president of the Minong, Wis.-based company. "They're 18 to 49. They like American heritage brands like Bud, Coke, Ford. They're high-energy. They're social and confident people. The role of Sasquatch is to make the advertisement memorable."
And Sasquatch is good for business. Jack Link's jerky and meat products account for 40 percent of a meat snack market that is approaching $3 billion in annual sales. In the two years that Sasquatch has been bellowing at tormentors, Jack Link's sales have jumped 47 percent in a snack category that rose 12 percent overall, according to ACNielsen.
The Sasquatch concept is the brainchild of Minneapolis advertising agency Carmichael Lynch. It was designed to highlight Jack Link's signature line, "Feed your wild side."
Jack Link's television buy is about $10 million with commercials on programming that appeals to a younger demographic, including extreme sports, ESPN, the Speed Channel, Comedy Central and the Discovery Channel. Sasquatch has been a presence at Wild hockey games as well.
Then there's the Internet.
"There is a big viral component on YouTube," said John Colasanti, Carmichael Lynch CEO. "There's been 4 million hits on YouTube. You don't pay for that."
Jack Link's Beef Jerky was founded with a family recipe in 1985 by Troy Link's father, Jack, who is CEO of the company. It now has five manufacturing plants -- two in Wisconsin and one each in South Dakota, New Zealand and Brazil.
The snack meat, including meat nuggets as well as jerky, comes in flavors ranging from pepper to teriyaki.
In recent years meat snacks have gained in popularity as low-carbohydrate, high-protein alternatives to chips and other snacks.
"We had a great product but people didn't know who we were," said Troy Link. "The role of the Sasquatch campaign was to increase brand awareness and preference. It was to make us be known as the cool brand."
Jim Bendt, chairman of the Minnesota chapter of the American Association of Advertising Agencies and president of the Gabriel DeGrood Bendt agency in Minneapolis, said the Sasquatch campaign is a good example of how advertisers and retailers are targeting the "echo boomer" generation -- the children of baby boomers.
"That's who marketers are really interested in, and technology plays a huge role in how you reach them," Bendt said. "Technology is second nature to this group and they like to multitask. They're surfing the Web while they're watching TV. Marketers find them very elusive."
The Sasquatch commercials are designed to be mini-tales about life in the wilderness.
One ad shows two hikers who spot Sasquatch cooking a fish over a campfire. One of them sneaks up behind Sasquatch and loosens the cap on the salt shaker. When Sasquatch goes to season his catch, the entire container of salt spills out. A pained "why me?" expression comes across his face.
In another, two guys in a car going down a road in the woods slow down to offer Sasquatch a ride and, each time Sasquatch reaches for the back-door handle, the car speeds up, as the guys in the car crack up in laughter.
Sasquatch, however, usually has the last laugh, or the last thump. In the hitchhiking spot, Sasquatch finally slams the passenger in the car through the windshield and then climbs into his seat. In other spots, pranksters get swatted by Sasquatch's powerful arms or get hit with a sizable rock.
"The campaign has definitely hit its mark," said Troy Link.
David Phelps • 612-673-7269