Hamburger Helper… is not bringing sexy back!

I would like to perform an experiment. Close your eyes, get comfy, clear your mind and really think about what I am about to ask you.

What words come to mind when I say Godiva Chocolat and Ciroq Vodka…perhaps sexy? Intriguing?

How about skittles or Oreo’s …fun? Maybe even young?

Ok, here’s the last one, what comes to mind when you think of Hamburger Helper? If you weren’t thinking fun and sexy  you’re not alone! This has been one major issue plaguing the company and many others that might lack some of the excitement of the aforementioned brands I listed earlier. This un-sexy problem is one that inhibited their social media growth. You see, people tend to interact with companies and brands that they find exciting, sexy, fun, or intriguing. Hamburger Helper has an image problem when it comes to Facebook the brand often goes ignored. Hamburger Helper never meant to be a sexy brand. In fact, marketers work hard to present it as a high-quality, wholesome, and a trustworthy brand. They did not anticipate that their online presence would be negatively affected by their (to put it bluntly) boring image that they themselves facilitated.

As technology has advanced the world of advertising and marketing has expanded from print media to include online platforms. According to Nielsen, consumers spend one-quarter of their online time on social media sites, Facebook accounting for a whopping 16 percent ( Sobieski, 2011). The problem is that consumers aren’t interacting with all brands only those that are appealing.  For example, Skittles has 20,831,623 fans and has several off-shoot fan pages whereas Hamburger Helper only has 9,087 with no fan pages. The company has risked putting time and money into their social media campaigns without being recognized because of their un-sexy image.

As of yet, the company has not found a way to solve this problem. Kevin Sobieski mentions one suggestion and that is to join the Superbowl advertising frenzy. It is predicted that those commercials will be watched 500 million times on the web alone generating a huge social media buzz. Of course with the expense involved this is not a feasible solution for all of the un-sexy brands out there.  Companies and brands need to find ways to connect with their consumer. For example, offering coupons and discounts are a great way to generate buzz for any brand. This is how companies like Einstein bagel have created some buzz despite their not-so-sexy reputation.

Check out the brands you follow. Are you a follower of sexy or fun brands mainly or are you the exception and interact with brand that may be considered boring?


K. Sobieski. (2011). Social Media is Taking Over. What’s a Boring Brand to do? In The Online Economy Strategy and Entrepreneurship. Retrieved February 21, 2012, from

8 responses

  1. I enjoyed your post and I am now very hurgry! It is very intersting how hambuger helper is very well known and many people enjoy it, there are only 9K friends on facebook. It will never be a sexy brand, but there is a lot they can do to have more of an impact on consumers.

  2. Do you think that a product has to be sexy to be successful in the social media realm. For example, I wouldn’t consider McDonalds as a sexy burger place like Smash burger. However, McDonalds has over 17M followers on Facebook and Smash burger only has 7K. I ask the question knowing that the comparrision may not be apples to apples but I still wonder if sexy is that big of a factor for a social media campaign to be successful.

    Just wondering…

    • No, I don’t think they have to be sexy but brands that are fun and/or sexy tend to get a better following. Of course as you mention this isn’t always the case but it makes sense that these brands cause more of a stir or interaction than “boring brands.” I wouldn’t say that McDonald’s is particularly boring or any more/or less fun than Smashburger (which I am not familiar with).

  3. I think Hamburger Helper has to embrace who they are and just go with it. I put it on the same plane as Spam. Everyone knows what it is, but not everyone buys it or wants to talk about it online. I think too many products are trying to be something they’re not, which leads to a big fail in branding. Maybe Hamburger Helper should take a funny approach rather than a sexy one. Maybe the hand can dress up at Halloween or start dating a girl hand or maybe get a new sweater/glove for christmas. Bring some life to the hand! There’s no way to make their cartoon icon sexy without it being icky 🙂

    • I like the idea of taking a funny/fun approach. Not everything should be sexy- I completely agree! I will say I tend to interact more frequently with companies or brands that are fun however I also purchase some boring brands as well.

  4. Great post! I just ate hamburger helper last night and have never thought one way or the other about what drives me to buy it, other than it is cheap, filling and taste good. But now that I think about it, there brand is not all that exciting, there brand is just recognizable. There mascot, which is a hand has not changed and I think that is one of their problems.
    As far as what kind of follower I am, I don’t follow to many companies. The ones I follow include The Burger Lounge, Godiva, these two brands are sexy, fun and inviting.
    Your post really gave me something to think about.

    • Yea the brands I follow tend to be more fun-centric brands. I do purchase other brands that may not be as fun but I interact much more with ones that are. Thanks for reading : )

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