Can Jello Rebrand #FML?

Everyone’s favorite jiggly snack brand has decided to take it upon itself to rebrand one of the Internet’s longest-standing abbrevs: FML.

The hashtag, very well-known (if not extremely overused), represents a generation’s expression of self-pity. With an accompanying microblog that blew up around 2008-09 and might be considered a forerunner of sites like Texts from Last Night, FML is pretty well-ingrained in digital culture.

Jello, with agency partner Crispin, Porter, + Bogusky, have hijacked the profanity-inferring phrase as part of their latest social media marketing campaign, hoping to gain traction with their new definition: Fun my life.

Let’s move past the fact (as much as it pains me) that that doesn’t make any grammatical sense and talk about whether this ploy might actually work.

The idea is this: Between now and June 14, everyone who tweets the #FML hashtag is entered into a pool, from which a certain number will win “Fun My Life” prize packs “specially created to get their life back on track.” All of this – from the original hashtagged tweets to Jello’s chosen responses – can be followed at

I’m going to break my own rule and start with the fact that “fun my life” makes absolutely no sense. Fun is not a verb; the word they’ve chosen to replace? Verb.

Next up? The creep factor. Yes, yes, I know they’ve pulled the tweets from public accounts by a simple search of the hashtag. But seeing as how an overwhelming majority of those users who will use the hashtag over the next however many days will have no idea about Jello’s campaign, the fact that their tweets are entered into a sort of contest and broadcast on the JelloFML site is, in my opinion, a smidge creepy.

And can they really hope their rebrand will catch on? My assumption is no.

FML is a part of Internet culture – perhaps not to the height of something like “LOL,” but it’s up there. So how can this campaign really hope to make a splash? I’m not sure.

I’ve mentioned this as it relates to social media superstar Oreo: the most successful brands on social media are those who fulfill the 3 C’s of content, context, and conversation. Oreo, with both it’s Daily Twist campaign and its many timely tweets since, successfully fulfilled the “3 C’s” by offering relevant, timely, simple, humorous, and shareable content without pandering for likes, comments, or shares.

Too often, when it comes to social media strategy, brands are more concerned with timing than content; but to succeed in engaging conversation, the strategy must lie at the relevant intersection of context and content. Merely inserting yourself in a consumer’s feed with a message that is either off-brand or off-topic will not encourage the engagement necessary to form consumer-brand relationships, and might go so far as to turn off the consumer.

In Jello’s case, I don’t think the campaign succeeds in meeting the C’s. It seems more that they’re forcefully inserting themselves into conversation when I’m not sure it’s welcome, let alone relevant.

That being said, I’ve wavered back and forth on whether or not I think this campaign is “good” or “bad” (I started drafting this on Saturday). I got second thoughts when I recalled a post I’d written back in the fall that talked about creating conversation and taking part in “surprise and delight” campaigns.

Here’s what I said in that case:

Coke’s digital agency in Atlanta, CSE, tracks social media diligently; and when they notice someone with a substantial following (500+) commenting on college football, they “surprise and delight” by, for instance, sending that Tweeter an autographed helmet.

In my favorite “surprise and delight” moment, a Vanderbilt student tweeted that he and three friends were traveling to Chicago for the Northwestern game and mentioned that they didn’t have tickets. CSE execs found the message and arranged for them to receive four tickets to the game for free.

Completely unwarranted – we’re not talking a sweepstakes, or really, anything from the brand side – Coke Zero is able to build a fan base that is instantly loyal by targeting socially active 18-34 year olds in their target base of college football, notably SEC, fans. I’m certain that if I received free tickets or autographed memorabilia from Coke Zero, all of my friends would know it and know how.

Now that’s pretty cool.

But is it the same thing for Jello to find their favorite FMLers, surprising them with “Fun My Life” prize packs (presumably including Jello products)? I’m not sure. It’s certainly the same idea, but the execution just seems kind of off to me.

And you just can’t convince me that “Fun My Life” was the right name.

Come on people, grammar.


One Comment on “Can Jello Rebrand #FML?”

  1. Crispin, Porter, + Bogusky may be a great agency with a very successful track record, but when I see their attempt to change #FML to Fun My Life, I have one predominant image:

    A bunch of churchy moms, sitting around in their Mom Jeans, drinking Crystal Light mocktails and saying things like “swears are for squares” as they try to make the interwebs safe for their little Billy, before they go picket Victoria’s Secret for their window display at the mall.

    In short, this campaign is a #FAIL, and the odds are strong that someday soon Jello execs will be like #SMH and #FMAdAgency.

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