Betty White: Branding Lessons

In case you’ve been living under a rock….Betty White, the 88 year old Emmy winning actress, is back with a vengeance.

Her re-popularity (if that’s a word) started with a Snicker’s commercial during the Super Bowl:

This spot and her performance in it, triggered a Facebook campaign to have her host Saturday Night Live. Over half a million people became fans of the Facebook petition page and she will be appearing this weekend as the SNL host.

What branding lessons can be learned from Betty White?

For me the biggest take away is that she stayed true and authentic to herself all these years.

Whether as the sarcastic Sue Anne on the Mary Tyler Moore show or the sweet but ditsy Rose on Golden Girls…she’s made a career of getting laughs by throwing herself wholeheartedly into roles an really making the characters funny, but relatable.

So the Snickers commercial resonated with so many people because here’s a lady who’s always spoken her mind and who has always pushed the envelope for comedy.

Other 88 year olds would not have been so funny in that spot. Or believable.

So my guess is that millions will tune in Saturday Night, not just because of the novelty of a person her age hosting the show, but rather to see a timeless comedian, Betty White.

That’s the kind of longevity many brands would be so lucky to have.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

What do you think is the magic of the Betty White brand?

4 thoughts on “Betty White: Branding Lessons

  1. I think the “fun” of this whole Betty White campaign is the fact that off-camera, Betty White can be a salty-tongued, one-line artist, a la Don Rickles.

    I think a lot of us by now have seen those Infomercials for Dean Martin’s Celebrity Roasts dating back to the mid-70s when Betty White & many of the stars of that era sat up on a dais (rather intoxicated) and ripped each other “new ones” all without network TV censoring their comments….

    Now, we all know & love the sweet, innocent, sarcastic Betty White (vis-à-vis TMTM Show & GGs), but how much funnier is she when she is dropping f*bombs in Johnny Carson’s direction or telling a dirty, off-color joke about Sammy Davis, Jr.

    To me, it’s just that paradox that makes it work… and the Snickers commercial, when she drops the line about “that’s not what your girlfriend said”, it capitalizes on her somewhat salty reputation off-camera.

    She is not only whetting our appetite for a Snickers, but doing the same for our love of the Stand-up comedy act, which, in-turn, is a perfect SNL-vehicle.

    Go Betty!

    1. @Gregg thanks for the comment. I bet you would have liked her beer pong match with Jimmy Fallon last night. I didn’t catch it, but my money would have been on Betty to win.

  2. Julie,

    I was expecting a Betty White-related posting from you considering you always cover the most current and intriguing stories.

    I agree with your comment on her maintaining her authenticity, whether related to her looks (is it just me or has she barely aged since the “Golden Girls”?), her (perceived) personality or her comedy.

    I also think an important branding and communications lesson from “the re-emergence of Betty White” is that you should never doubt the ability of your brand to reach audiences beyond the obvious. Betty is now the Above 60 “It” Girl among a younger (and digital) generation, which one could never have predicted. Who could have guessed this a year ago?

    1. @ Sara Great point on never underestimating your potential target. Thanks for mentioning that.

Comments are closed.