Sharing on Facebook and Twitter was so two months ago. Now, get ready for “smile tagging” — courtesy of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and the folks at Cheezburger Network. Beginning Thursday, a new “smile tag” button will be added right next to the Tweet and Facebook Like buttons on Cheezburger’s network of comedy sites.
What’s smile tagging? Basically, it is a sponsored method for people to share photos of their grins, laughs and smirks. Each time a person clicks on the smile button on a Cheezburger editorial post, they will be prompted to show off a big grin and have a photo snapped with their computer’s Webcam. The photos then can be shared with friends on Kraft’s Facebook page.
It marks a one-of-a-kind advertising/social media effort between a consumer brand (Kraft) and an online publisher (Cheezburger). The buttons will run on Cheezburger posts over the next two months, with the Seattle company receiving an undisclosed (but significant) amount of revenue for the deployment.
“Brands are more and more realizing that the opportunity to market and engage with users are in places outside of the standard banner slots,” said Todd Sawicki, chief revenue officer at Seattle-based Cheezburger. “They are not necessarily trying to get in their faces or do things that are obnoxious. They are trying to do things that are creative. Kraft wants to speak to their brand heritage, and a big part of their brand is kids and family and macaroni and a smile. That’s something that they really want to reinforce.”
Enter smile tagging, which Sawicki dubs a “brand experiment” for both companies. Developed by Kraft’s advertising agency, the smile tagging buttons will run exclusively on Cheezburger’s Web sites.
Sawicki, who joined Cheezburger in 2009, said that he’s planning to institute more partnerships along the lines of the Kraft deal in the coming months. In fact, Sawicki said that CEO Ben Huh has charged him with integrating brands and editorial content in such a way that there’s no longer a need for traditional banner ads.
The Kraft sponsorship is part of a bigger effort by the Seattle online comedy network — fresh off its $30 million venture capital financing round — to bolster revenues in new and creative ways.
“We expect this to be a success, and that we will be able to have more of these out-of-the-box experiences,” Sawicki said. “It kind of speaks to the brand of Cheezburger, which has always been kind of out-of-left-field concept…. I hope to do a lot more of these. They are interesting for everybody.”