Just after crossing the border from Wisconsin on my big road trip last week I saw what ended up being my favorite billboard on the trip. It simply said, “SPAM Museum. Trust Us.” Yes, there is a SPAM museum in Austin, Minnesota. The next billboard said, “Ingredients question answered.” SPAM Museum. Then the ever popular “Free Restrooms” SPAM Museum. And finally — “Finally. SPAM Museum.”
Don’t you want to go? We turned off the interstate. The little blue and gold SPAM signs guided us gently past the Hormel plant and huge employee parking lot to a beautiful brick building with landscaping, bronze pig statues and a guard shack at the entrance. Sadly the SPAM museum had closed for the day. But a guard was still there to greet us and distribute a plethora of SPAM catalogs, brochures, guides and complimentary post cards.
A sign of a good brand, in my opinion, is that it oozes from every pore of the organization. Without even going in I could tell it oozed. And it wasn’t just the smell. The parking spaces all said SPAM. The garden has SPAM stepping stones. And the SPAM Museum Official Tour Guide is some of the best marketing I’ve seen in years. To truly appreciate the cult that is SPAM — you have to visit http://www.spam.com.
The folks at SPAM (Hormel) have the gift of making everything fun. They even make fun of lawyers. I mean, let’s face it — you can’t pick up a cup of coffee, a pack of cigarettes or an email without some 4 point font telling you that no one is responsible for anything — “this coffee may be hot” (duh) or “smoking cigarettes may be hazardous to your health” (duh) or my favorite, the one that appears on a ton of email messages: “The above message is intended only for the addresse(s), may be confidential, and may contain privileged or copyrighted information. The message reflects only the sender’s opinion…blah blah blah….” Okay, we get it. You are afraid of your own shadow.
But SPAM boldly claims: “This SPAM Museum contains no artificial stories or preservatives. Items within may be replicas or substitutions but the truth is there. Let’s face it. You can’t make this stuff up.”
Brand is your reputation. And SPAM’s reputation is kind of a weird one. How could this brand have survived the health food craze of the 90’s? By considerately reducing the sodium of course. They embrace their canned-meatiness. They are proud to be hijacked by the information superhighway. It is a compliment to refer to annoying marketing messages on your computer as SPAM!!
SPAM turns 70 next year. They have served up over 6 billion cans of SPAM. It apparently is the official meat of Hawaii. I bought a SPAM shot glass. I will go back to Austin, Minnesota some day and go to the SPAM museum. I hope you will too. In the meantime, you may want to learn the SPAM song. It’s fun to say SPAM and even more fun to sing SPAM. SPAM SPAM SPAM. Brought to you by the good folks at Monty Python’s Flying Circus. http://www.mailmsg.com/sounds/spam-song.wav
This just in — you HAVE to check out http://www.myworthlesswebsite.com/spammuseum.html