Minn. firms are banking on royal wedding buzz

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I’ve been seeing a lot of references to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding lately, and I can guarantee you it’s NOT because I’m watching a lot of TMZ or perusing Us Weekly.

Minnesota-based businesses and organizations are jumping on the royal wedding publicity bandwagon, trying their best to get a piece of the web traffic uptick, social media blitz and, yes, the eyes of customers who have caught “royal wedding fever.”

“It’s the whole buzz marketing concept,” says Dave Hopkins, a marketing strategy professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

Hopkins said companies are capitalizing on the timeliness of the event as well as people’s fascination with royal weddings.

“It’s really an attention-getter,” he said. “It’s a built-in thing where people have an affinity to the subject already.”

Minnesota businesses are joining the chatter on Twitter, launching royal wedding-related web content and holding their own events aimed at providing a local angle to Friday’s coverage of the official ceremony.

As a result, it’s hard to avoid the buzz here in Minnesota. I’ve compiled a list of Minnesota-based companies, businesses and other entities that are trying to be a part of Friday’s royal wedding in one way or another:

Target Corp. Target has tweeted using the hatchtag #WillKat 18 times in the past week. The discount retailer has used it to get people talking about creative wedding gifts and has publicized its Facebook page on 101 things couples should do in their life together. Target has also asked its Twitter followers what it should include in a royal wedding Club Wedd registry.

Brit’s Pub in Minneapolis. This downtown establishment is holding a wedding “watch” party, complete with complimentary wedding cake. Customers can order an English breakfast and watch the affair on the bar’s big screens starting at 4 a.m.

Crispin Cider Company is also getting in on the action, using Brit’s for its Minnesota launch of a special cider called “Union.” Crispin describes it as “a marriage between equal amounts of pure apple & pear juices using authentic French champagne yeast, chapelized with organic honey and kissed with rose water.”

Spicer Castle Inn in Spicer, Minn. The bed and breakfast on Green Lake plans a royal wedding spoof on Friday. You can read about it in the West Central Tribune.

The University of Minnesota. A giant picture of Will and Kate has been in the rotation on the University of Minnesota’s homepage for at least a week. When you click it takes you to an interview with a U prof on the history of royal weddings. The U of M frequently uses current news events to highlight its professors’ research.

General Mills. The food giant’s Betty Crocker brand is all over the wedding buzz with a webpage of royal wedding party ideas. That includes recipes for things like “Union Jack Fruit Pizza” and “Royal Blue Velvet Cake.”

Best Buy. The consumer electronics retailer is offering a special edition pay-as-you go cellphone. It has a Union Jack on the front and the royal couple’s initials and wedding date on the back. Read about it in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.

Central Minnesota Wedding Association. This group representing wedding-related businesses is talking up its predictions about trends the royal wedding will start.

The Contented Cow pub in Northfield, Minn. The pub “with a British accent” has invited “All Honourable and Interested Personages” to watch the big event. The invitation reminds everyone that no alcohol will be served before 8 a.m. in accordance with Minnesota law.

Hopkins said marketing surrounding the royal wedding is happening worldwide. More than 2 billion people are expected to watch the ceremony.

And the buzz isn’t likely to end right away. Hopkins said Kate’s dress and other details revealed Friday could give companies more opportunities to associate their products with celebrity, a tried-and-true marketing strategy.

“People want to be tied to that association,” he said.

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