Minnesota’s Crapola Proud to Be Number Two Brand

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From the reaches of northern Minnesota comes a crappy brand story.

Crapola is the honest-to-God name of what’s billed as “the best granola in the universe.” It is handmade in the small town of Ely. And not only is the brand really called “Crapola,” but it’s also not shy about passing the pun throughout all of its marketing. You might say that it’s a gas.

“It all began with a joke,” says Brian Strom, who with his wife Andrea, founded and produces Crapola. “We were just talking one day, and I said ‘Wouldn’t it be funny if we made cranberry apple granola and called it Crapola?'”

Strom tells brandchannel that the idea snowballed and that they were “just kidding around and that “we weren’t trying to start a business or develop a brand name for granola or any other product.”[more]

The brand was launched in June 2007. From its official history:

“We searched far and wide for granola recipes, assembled  ingredients, and got busy.  We baked the first six  test batches in our wood-fired cookstove.  We stocked up on milk, gathered friends together and hosted a granola-tasting party, judging each variety and making notes.  The night was a great success!  But there was a long line for the bathroom.”

These plays on words, Strom insists, are “too fun to resist.”

“Is a legitimate Scrabble word” is one of the few Crapola marketing pitches that is not scatological in nature. “Crapola is high in fiber. Just ask one of our regular customers” is more and “Makes Even Weird People Regular” are more the norm. Encountering the bag at a local supermarket, customers do a double take. And while it runs afoul to what a brand agency might suggest, it has proven successful. But the brand has had to struggle convincing retailers Crapola is hardly just a joke.

Strom says that large regional supermarket Lund’s originally “balked at the name.” He met with the chain’s product manager in Minneapolis and “gave her my big sales pitch.” Strom says that it wasn’t long after that he got a call saying Lund’s product review board had decided “Crapola just didn’t belong in their stores.” “Game over, I thought,” says Strom.  

The manager called the very next day and said Lund’s had changed its mind.

It was a huge win for the brand. Lund’s, a local upscale grocer, is frequented by the exact kind of upscale, health-conscious shopper Crapola targets. Also, Lund’s is popular with the buy-local crowd.

Staying local is an important focus of the Crapola brand. The packaging was designed by a local artist named Shaun Chosa and the brand recently became a prominent sponsor of Minnesota Public Radio, where its characteristically scatological puns have cracked up some of the announcers and added an element “dry” public radio is not known for.

Now, Crapola has a new product to dump on the market: Number Two. (No kidding.)

Strom admits that they were concerned about maybe having gone too far with its number two product Number Two. “Potty humor has served us well,” he says. “But we’re moving away from it with our next flavor due out in June 2012. People get it now.  I don’t think we have to keep emphasizing the beneficial effects of dietary fiber in subsequent products.”

Strom says the name of the new product is “top secret.”

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