Hostess was the winner on opening day for Major League Baseball with their Tweet showcasing a Hostesss cupcake with a football shaped filling and the words “Touchdown”.

The Hostess viral marketing campaign exploded on the Internet as consumers and media alike criticized the brand for being seasonally maladjusted. Savvy viewers saw the campaign in a different light. Mainstream media including Sports Illustrated, CNBC, AdWeek, Entrepreneur Magazine, Business Insider and Today all reported on the tweet, with most of them claiming it to be a failed message. However, Hostess was really the winner with their tweet, as the company announced it was an intentional message twist designed to attract a younger demographic audience. The viral marketing campaign accomplished what it was intended to do with a significant word-of-mouth audience from both those “who got it” and loved the campaign and those who thought it was an unintentional seasonal “faux pas”.

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With the Today Show picking up the tweet as part of their coverage of #OpeningDay activities, Hostess demonstrated the winning social media strategy that they were able to execute with this viral marketing campaign to attract a younger demographic. On Twitter some of the commentary that came through included tweets like those posted below:

When a brand succeeds in social media we are seeing more and more engagement and recognition from other brands. In the case of the Hostess tweet, we saw Denny’s acknowledging the tweet with a tweet of their own as showcased below:

I’d call this campaign a home run for Hostess and a great example of earned media from a viral marketing campaign. Kudos to the social media marketing team at Hostess and to those sharing the campaign and proving the worth of social media in the marketing communications mix.