The future of brand interactions looks like Creme Egg mayonnaise

From a neuroscience perspective, a divisive product is likely to resonate with consumers.

The condiments are out of control. Last month saw the launch of Marmite peanut butter and now, for a limited period, visitors to this weekend’s pop-up in London will get a chance to taste Creme Egg mayonnaise. It’s the answer to the question nobody asked.

Aside from being the stuff of clickbait legend, what is the thinking behind these bizarre products? A cursory scan through Twitter will tell you that people are far from excited by the prospect of Creme Egg mayo.

One user felt a need to let @heinzmayo know that she is "curled up in a fetal position, waiting for you to take this back", while another journalist, who had been sent the product in advance, said: "It was like dipping my face into a vortex of acidic pudding."

These aren’t ringing endorsements. But that’s irrelevant.

Savvy marketing

Unlike Marmite peanut butter or New Zealand’s ketchup ice cream, it doesn’t matter to Heinz or Cadbury what people think of Creme Egg mayo, because it isn’t a product launch. It’s a savvy marketing stunt – one that positions the brands as playful, experimental and, most importantly, human.

It’s a bold activation that taps into the mood of the nation. People are sick and tired of reading about how badly Brexit is going and they are generally fed up of scrolling through news sites and finding themselves bombarded with negativity.

A story about an incredibly divisive and peculiar new concoction is likely to bring a smile to people’s faces, regardless of whether they are chomping at the bit or vomiting at the thought of it.

Consumers are exposed to more than 4,000 brand messages a day, meaning brands need to work that much harder to cut through the noise. Savvy brands such as Heinz and Cadbury are leading the FMCG sector by changing tack when it comes to engaging people in an authentic way. They have learned from successful collaborations in other sectors, such as Nike and Apple’s ongoing partnership and BMW’s tie-up with Louis Vuitton, to create something that brings huge benefits to both parties.

Resonating with consumers

Heinz and Cadbury's novelty product is a masterpiece in building brand awareness and loyalty, and, from a neuroscience perspective, the launch of such a divisive product is likely to resonate with consumers. The brain is hard-wired to detect novelty – it attracts our attention and motivates us. However, novelty can have a high cognitive load, so it is essential to combine it with already trusted familiar elements (such as a brand) to ensure the sweet spot is reached.

Creme Egg mayo will hit these sweet spots because the two concepts are already familiar; it’s their combination that’s weird and surprising. The timing of the announcement was also perfect for landing this mixture of the familiar and the surprising. By announcing the "launch" on April Fool’s Day, it achieved coverage in the media, with many readers presuming that this was simply another prank from a brand to tie in with the day of mischief. These expectations were then jolted when it became apparent that the product was no joke and, thanks to Cadbury’s obvious associations with Easter, the story will continue to enjoy traction this month.

Regardless of what people think about the product, Cadbury and Heinz have already won by proving themselves as forerunners when it comes to delivering brand interactions that feel human and organic. It’s going to be a very happy – if somewhat funny-tasting – Easter for both brands.

Liz Richardson is managing partner at HeyHuman

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