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Special Project

Special Project
From the 6th Annual Shorty Awards

Dietz & Watson - LaserHam

Finalist in Real-Time Response


LaserHam. It’s a story of nimble collaboration. Of relevance reliant on brevity. And of premium deli meat. It all started on an idle Tuesday night in September—10:36 p.m. to be exact. Comedian Michael Ian Black sent a frivolous tweet asking his 1.9 million followers if anyone had invented a laser that etches your face on a ham? And within the 140 characters, he dubbed it LaserHam. Surely, someone was listening, right? The team at allen & gerritsen (a&g) was. And without pause they knew their client Dietz & Watson could deliver. Literally. Dietz & Watson, a national premium deli meats & cheeses brand, has a real meat laser, and a&g had been begging to get their hands on it. After a few internal emails & hoo-rahs heard later that night, a&g had a game plan with an expiration date—laser Michael Ian Black’s face on a Dietz & Watson premium ham and serve it up to him before sunset on Wednesday. When Wednesday rolled around, it was all hands on deck. From creatives and copywriters, to community managers and PR, a&g was locked and loaded—and so were the engineers at Dietz & Watson, who worked their magic within an amazingly aggressive timeframe. The client had been working hard to distinguish themselves in a category full of bologna (figuratively and literally). They were eager to continue evolving their brand, and relevant content like this was a no-brainer. In less than 24 hours, a&g and Dietz & Watson created the first lasered ham. Well… the first ham lasered with a bona fide social media celebrity’s face. The tweet containing the photo of LaserHam was sent back to Michael in hopes of a retweet. And he did. More than 65 others did too. Which ultimately lead to a reach of more than 3MM and more than 6,000 photo views of the gloriously handsome LaserHam.For brands to stand out, they have to tell engaging, memorable and timely brand stories. The challenge is that consumers live in a real-time news environment. Branded content that is dated or out-of-touch is easily forgotten and becomes a waste of marketing dollars. The lifespan of a news story is brief. To inject our clients into breaking news cycles to generate meaningful media coverage, or in the case of LaserHam, create news and interest that previously hadn’t existed, we work with our clients to seize opportunities in real-time. And that’s just what we’ve done for premium meat and artisan cheese purveyor, Dietz & Watson. Energy Dietz & Watson is a stalwart heritage brand that continues to grow nationally and evolve its message. While its products predated many of the healthy trends of the day, its relatively low media spend compared to the rest of the category forced the company to earn loyalty by engaging directly and seizing opportunities. In 2013, Dietz & Watson engaged allen & gerritsen to drive its social presence. LaserHam was a prime example of seeing the power of social opportunity. Here’s a 75-year-old family run brand with a previously modest social footprint, rallying around a crazy idea. Many of its employees didn’t know who Michael Ian Black even was, yet here they were, allowing its young brand managers and agency partner to run wild for a few hours branding a ham with his face. That’s proof that a good idea, with full buy-in, can energize a company. Value For a brand like Dietz & Watson, every interaction is critical. They don’t spend like some of the bigger boys in their category, so they need to squeeze everything they can out of every engagement. The value of Michael Ian Black’s community, its extensions and the PR earned from the idea totaled over 3MM in brand impressions and 6000 photo views of D&W product, without a single dollar spent on media. That’s low budget/high impact engagement. This is How it’s Supposed to Work An agency with its eyes, ears & brains open to all engagement stimuli. A client not only tolerant of a new idea, but energized by it. The convergence of the physical world (it doesn’t get more physical than a meat plant environment) and a digital trigger with taste-making (no pun) opportunity. All done in less than 24 hours. That’s modern engagement and brand storytelling right now. It’s also a model for how partners work to get cool things done. Balls We put Michael Ian Black’s face onto a ham. With a laser. Then we put it on the internet. Not your standard agency idea.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

allen & gerritsen