Bumble Bee Swims into Social Media

Fitness Guru Richard Simmons’ renaissance sparked by tuna seller’s sponsorship

Remember Richard Simmons?  He was the health and fitness guru of the 80’s and 90’s?  The little guy with the big ‘fro, tiny shorts, tight tanks, rockin’ Reebok high-tops and an off-the-meter attitude. If that doesn’t jog your memory enough to conjure up a vision of the most obnoxiously successful stretch and sit-up Sensei since Jack Lalane (oh, never mind…), go ask your grandmother about him.  Chances are she still harbors a crush on the little guy.  And if that fails and he’s still totally off your radar he was probably way before your time and that’s OK because you already get it.  For the rest of us of a certain age, the fact that Bumble Bee Foods has decided that he’s the guy they’re gonna back in the company’s initial Web video sponsorship is news.  Yep, Bumble Bee, the top tuna trawler in the world is going to sponsor Richard Simmons’ YouTube series.  All we can say is that it’s about damn time – for both of them.

When we first read the article, we did what we usually do:  check the ages of the principals, talent and key decision-makers. It’s a little game we play around here, the same way people start reading the obits before they retire (deconstructing that behavior would take more space than we have here our my motivation is strangely similar).  It turns out that Mr. Simmons is 65 and Mr. Christopher Lischewski, Bumble Bee’s chief executive and the suit that green-lit the project is at least fifty.  Definite dinosaurs in these digital days.  Now, we’ve got nothing against guys of a certain age, particularly since some of us here are caught between the two of them on that continuum.  Our interest is purely professional.  Because the sooner people of a certain vintage realize that the internet, video and social media (can we please do something about that term?!?!) are the de facto advertising, marketing and communications tools now and forevermore, the sooner we can all get back to work.  So this development is another in a lengthening line of encouraging signs.

When a sixty-five year old fitness guru (someone who had the foresight and conviction to commit to health and exercise when all the world around him thought that lifting a 10-ounce Rolex was “exercise” enough) and a man who spends his day walking the thin line between nutritionists and environmentalists, finally realize that the Internet is a good place to come together – we can add two more converts to the list.  And that’s significant because when he was most popular  Mr. Simmons raked in millions of dollars in profits pushing fitness. And rumor has it the annual ad budget at Bumble Bee is north of $100 million.  If we can get those two boys excited about doing a YouTube series, then we can get almost anyone excited.  And those dollars end up in our world.  The light went on for Mr. Simmons when Joanna Rohrback, a seventy-something Florida woman generated 7.9 million views doing of HIS “Pancercise” workout, online.  Ouch.  Mr. Simmons, admittedly late to the viral party despite having a predilection for pioneering, hired an SEO guru to give his on-line image a workout.  He’s currently hustling to get his Facebook Likes past 60,000.  We Liked him today and will be Following him tomorrow.  Just for kicks; and because we’re like rooting for dinosaurs.

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