Hey guys, did you catch the Kyle Scheele TikTok-Gas-Station-Cutout-Reverse-Heist-Brand-Crossover-Charity-Marketing-Pizza-Sandwich Saga of 2021?
The sum-up: TikToker Kyle Scheele, upon realizing that convenience store employees have no idea how giant cardboard cutout ads are placed and displaced at their locations, decides to fashion a life-size cutout of himself shredding his beloved pizza guitar and surreptitiously place it in his local Kum & Go. The stunt goes viral and fans start tagging Kum & Go who respond by fully engaging in the fun. This results in a “meal” being created in partnership with Red Bull (who jumped in on the brouhaha along with other brands including Uno, Dudewipes, Nerf, and TikTok itself.) All of this culminated in the creation of the “Sheele Meale” (pronounced SHEEL-ee MEAL-ee) with a portion of proceeds going to the charity No Kid Hungry and Red Bull matching donations.
Here’s what we love about this saga:
The TikTok audience moves fast, and moves on even faster. The stunt moves quickly keeping the audience engaged.
Kum & Go they didn’t just run with it but added to it. Changing the meal name to a catchy rhyme, getting Red Bull on board, and partnering with a charity.
By partnering with a charity, they extended the life of the stunt. It’s no longer just an influencer meal that you may or may not care about—it’s a way to get an inexpensive lunch and donate a few bucks to No Kid Hungry. This extended the life of it through Thanksgiving—a perfect timeline for a publicity stunt.
At first glance, this all seems like the perfect example of how companies being bold, funny, and paying attention to the social media landscape can really pay off, and make a lot of people more happy and less hungry.
Turns out, Kyle’s selection of a Kum & Go wasn’t as random and whimsical as it seemed—Kum & Go confirmed in this article that they reached out to him first, because they liked his comedy style and he was more affordable than bigger influencers.
That leaves room for a lot of questions. Exactly how much of it was staged? If they reached out to Kyle and said, “Hey, we’ll pay you to work us into one of your videos!” – that’s one thing. But we don’t know. If the entire idea came from Kum & Go and Kyle’s story of having the idea was made up, then he lied to his audience and he did it without disclosing through something like listing it as “#ad.”
Even with as little information as the news article provides, it changes our feelings toward the whole thing. Now there’s doubt.
It’s hard to say how much backlash Kyle Scheele or Kum & Go will face for this. It’s entirely possible that no one will care. But at least for us, the doubt is there now. And when your audience can’t fully trust you, how much is that relationship worth?
*Regardless of the stunt’s genesis, you can jump in on a good cause and donate to No Kid Hungry directly here. We did!